It seems like I’ve been arguing a lot recently to have less equipment on Adventure Playgrounds, and for a return to loose parts on site so that children can construct their own structures through and for their play as necessary. Still, habits die hard, and when I was in the Gambia with a collection of other playworkers we quickly began assembling bits of equipment that were familiar to us. This was partly to help us introduce ourselves to the children and partly to help us feel useful in a new and unfamiliar place.
We started by using the pieces of broken furniture which had been pulled out of the schoolhouse,
and with a hand from the children…
we soon built something that interested them briefly.
Much better was the string we found, which they used for skipping ropes and a swing.
This was hung from the tree which the children climbed for mangoes throughout the day, sometimes throwing them down to (or at) the other children who were swinging. It all proved how rich a playspace can be with just a tree and some string, and how playworkers can always be taught a thing or two about play, playspaces and the capacities of children.