Play in a Pod Pilot Project
In order to test our idea we piloted it with an enthusiastic school. We targeted a school where play times had become quite stressful, with limited resources and much conflict between children.
The following was reported and observed before we began:
* Persistent bickering and boredom occurred during playtime; many children sought adult attention
* Football dominated (and thus disrupted) a large portion of the playground
* There was a scarcity of play resources, partially due to behavioural issues (e.g., restricted use of skipping ropes given inappropriate use)
* Toys offered were often quickly exhausted or easily broken
* The playground was divisive between age groups and gender
* Wet play times were spent inside
* Upon seeing the children play with materials during her first taster session a P5 teacher said, ‘This is great but the whole school would never be able to play with it at the same time. It would be chaos.’
What we did:
The school acquired a shipping container to use as a pod with our assistance – we funded a year lease on a vandal-proof shipping container. We further provided a graffiti workshop to design and decorate the pod to the students’ specifications.
With our guidance, students identified scrap materials and arranged regular scrap drop offs with local businesses. We further worked with teachers and pupils in the playground to introduce the concept of free play and the scrap/natural materials, also providing training to all school staff. We regularly met with head teachers and key staff to discuss Pod progress along with any difficulties and challenges along the way, providing advice and support as necessary.
After five months, the following developments occurred:
* Playground behaviour improved when using the pod
* No divides during playtime – all children played together
* Pod’s high demand acts as an incentive during class time
* Children are more imaginative, and are no longer stressed about breaking or losing play resources
* Children who otherwise find it difficult to integrate and achieve excel when playing with the pod
* Wet playtimes are now spent outside
* Playground assistants better understand the importance of free play and risk in play after training
* Teachers utilise the Pod as an outdoor learning resource