On May 30, a crew of Adventure Play leaders from the City of Calgary visited Children’s Village School. Early in the morning, they unloaded a cube van filled with tires, ropes, tarps, pipes, crates, barrels, boards, pieces of old playground equipment and all sorts of other lovely ‘junk’. Over the course of the day, forts, balance beams, slingshots, corner stores and spaceships emerged. Kids climbed on, over and under things, built structures, deconstructed structures, tied things up, dug holes, and told stories. They played. They learned. It was beautiful.
Occupational Therapist, Erin Novak, first made the connection with representatives from the City; she had been working closely with two teachers to facilitate learning through play all year, and the time was right for their loose parts play to extend to larger-scale outdoor exploration. Prior to the Adventure Play day, City staff hosted an after school in-service with CVS staff. They described the process of creating dynamic spaces where children can create, explore, imagine and learn, and they answered questions from CVS staff about both pragmatics and safety. City staff joined CVS’ first day of play and learning, providing support and guidance for both students and staff.
Children’s Village students loved Adventure Play—they beamed with pride while describing what they had created and the adventures they had experienced. A CVS psychologist commented on the value of this kind of experience for our students, noting that the opportunity for sustained imaginative, creative play has tremendous value for kids whose learning profiles tend towards impulsivity, inflexibility or reactivity. One teacher commented that she wished she could make Adventure Play part of learning every day.
Children’s Village School is currently in the process of building our own trolley of loose parts that teachers can bring outside to support their children in learning through play. We are so appreciative of the supports and expertise provided by the City of Calgary to help us get started on this learning journey.