What happens when children direct their own play

According to research, although play is essential in every child’s life adults find defining and understanding children’s play a challenge. Therefore, playground designers develop tools which help them to understand what happens in the children’s world when they are given the chance to design their own course of play. 

Experimental Playground Kit

Snug&Outdoor received a major funding award from NESTA (National Endowment for Science Technology and the Arts), Arts Council and the Esme Fairbairne Foundation. This has enabled the company to develop a purpose made SNUG Experimental Playground Kit.

SNUG Kit is a modular equipment, which can be used by children of all ages. It allows children to create their own school playgrounds and dynamic play environments. The kit has now been used in a number of primary schools in London and the Hampshire county.

“At Snug & Outdoor, we spend a lot of time simply observing children playing and we have come to realise how hard it is for us as adult observers to fully understand what is really going on – often what appears to us to be a dull and featureless space is in fact a territory packed full of drama for the children,” said Hattie Coppard, director at Snug & Outdoor.

Understanding children

“This is why it is so important to find meaningful and creative way how to consult with children of all ages and abilities. It enables us to observe children and identify their thought process and behaviours whilst they are designing their own play areas using their imagination,” added Coppard.

“Instead of asking them to describe in words or on paper how they would like their playground or locality to look like, it enables them to demonstrate rather than describe what it is they enjoy and need.”

Children develop new skills 

The physical, cognitive, creative and psychological benefits of child-directed play are well-documented.

“We have adopted a more open-minded and imaginative approach to designing play areas for children and witnessed an increase in co-operative play across all the ages.”

“Using the Snug Kit equipment, we observed that the children acquired new skills invaluable for their future adult life. They learned how to work as a team, solve a problem, negotiate and skills of leadership,” concluded Coppard.

About Snug+Outdoor

Snug+Outdoor is an award-winning company of artists who design innovative play environments in schools, housing schemes and public places. Their projects often involve collaborating with landscape architects, architects, engineers, poets, lighting designers and others. For more information visit www.snugandoutdoor.co.uk.

Author: Marketa Vesela

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