Home' Belonging Early Years Journal : Vol 5 No 1 Contents BELONGING EARLY YEARS JOURNAL • VOLUME 5 NUMBER 1 • 2016 • 95
play areas, equipment + sustainable practice
expectations. So, while the traditional play structures
still work, consideration is now given to enhancing play
value by adding new relevance and engagement.
Sight lines have been opened up to promote eye
contact, interaction, socialisation and more effective
monitoring. Design for movement in, around and out
of play equipment has also changed. Now, options
include offering multiple paths in, on and around the
equipment. Going from linear flow to open flow means
simultaneous play for more kids, and less waiting
in line. Multiple play paths also invite more creative
play.There’s no one right way to play on modern
equipment.This encourages creative problem-solving,
imagination and collaboration, not to mention
increased play engagement and plenty of exercise.
Correctly designed play equipment should connect
kids with their own abilities, and with each other.
Music for play
One aspect of play that is often overlooked is the use
of music in an unstructured sense.
German composer Carl Orff developed a way
of tapping into children’s natural sense of rhythm
and melody. Orff, who died in 1982, co-founded the
Günther School for gymnastics, music and dance in
Munich, Germany, and developed a simple way of
teaching music to youngsters by using percussion
instruments. His approach stems from the premise that
every child is innately musical and naturally loves to
play, sing, and dance. He tuned percussive instruments
to the pentatonic scale, and encouraged children to
play them ensemble.
Children learn through doing, exploring and
improvising.They have a natural instinct to create
their own melodies and explore their imaginations.
These instincts are directed into learning music by
hearing and making music first, then reading and
writing it later, in the same way that we all learnt our
own language. The special Orff melody instruments
include pentatonic wooden xylophones and metal
glockenspiels that offer good sound immediately.
The pentatonic scale is excellent for improvised
ensembles; you can just play around and never
hit anything inordinately dissonant. Simply put, the
pentatonic scale consists of five notes within one
octave. The notes in the pentatonic scale naturally
sound good in any order because there are no
dissonant intervals between any of them.
Nature play for learning
In today’s sanitised environment for children, they can
miss out on tactile exploration, particularly when it
comes to natural materials, such as sand and water;
however, playing with such exploration can provide
children with a perfect introduction to science.
The inclusion of a sensory playground in any school
or early childhood centre invites children to explore the
science behind water, sand and movement through
social interaction and mechanical activities.
There is so much science involved in play, that
inquisitive minds will want to question how, why and
where. They’ll also have a lot of fun!
The best playgrounds
Clever playground designers and landscape
architects understand the importance of using space
and equipment to provide play environments that
encourage social interaction, imaginative play and
educational development. There is no one piece
of playground equipment that does it all. Rather, it
is the combination of pieces positioned within the
playground that will provide the best play experience.
It is important for early childhood centres to
consider how equipment will enable children to
experience unstructured play. Obviously, demands
such as budgets and space are important
considerations, but make sure you don’t simply fall for
the more-is-more mantra. It isn’t about the size of the
equipment, but rather how it addresses the needs of
the children who will be using it.
*A standardised test given to 15-year-olds across
Reference material: Playworld Systems Inc, ‘Percussion Play’, The Social
Science Journal – Volume 50, Issue 4, December 2013. Article by
One aspect of
play that is often
overlooked is the
use of music in an
Equipped with his
senses, man explores
the universe around
him and calls the
– Edwin Powell Hubble
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