Is a Play Boat too prescriptive for School Playgrounds?

At the education show this year we launched our new range of Play Ships, or Galleons as we prefer to call them, and I must admit I was quite nervous. We love giving educational professionals the chance to see our new products in the flesh at Playtime by Fawns before we start physically installing them into school and nursery play areas, or indeed before our parent company Wicksteed Playscapes begin installing them in public play parks, and the feedback we get often helps us make final adjustments to the designs.  It also goes someway to reassuring us that we have created a design that will excite and challenge children.

However I was more nervous than previous years, for the last three years the new play ranges had been very open ended designs, non prescriptive with a focus on landscaping effects and blending natural features with play opportunities that are children led. For examples of which are our Pick-Up-Sticks range of tangled timber which replicates tree climbing after a storm, or our combination of mounds and tunnels with natural step logs and rope swings. These have all been a massive success, we continue to create play areas especially for early years settings in which we create mounds linked to logs, and the Pick-Up-Sticks range now has eight different sizes allowing open ended non prescriptive play from Early Years to KS2.

We knew that role play still played an important part in learning through play even at KS2 level, often from experiences of play with our own children. It seemed to us that a good balanced outdoor space would have room for both, and so during 2012 we pressed on with developing a range of play boats that could offer challenge, risk taking and role play opportunities for primary aged children. The good news is they went down very well at the Education Show and have sold well since. We designed them in keeping with other products we manufacture, durable low maintenance timbers with a 15 year guarantee ensuring sustainability and good play value from a compact multiplay unit. The feedback from teaching professionals is that the opportunity for role play is an invaluable tool that engages the children and allows them to introduce a myriad of concepts, for example at one photo shoot the children had treasure maps, where using compasses, talking about navigating by the stars and wind directions. Everybody got dressed up and worked together, while of course avoiding the inevitable crocodiles and sharks that inhabit the 7 seas.