Loose Parts Playgrounds

In Term 2, six classed explored the question “What is a successful loose parts playground?”. A green shipping container had appeared in the playground and students were curious about why it had arrived.

green shipping container in playground

Each class watch a video called “Inside NYC’s Riskiest Playground Where Parents Aren’t Allowed Inside” to provoke their thinking about loose parts playgrounds.

page of see, think and wonder sharing

After watching they where challenged to list what they could see by close observation, state what they thought using evidence from their close observations and then create some questions to guide our research in answering the BIG question.

List of Learning Assets in toolkit

Our classes were adding to their learning toolkit during the term by discussing and developing their learning assets. There are 5 learning assets that our classes focus attention on throughout each learning day. In particular during our loose parts exploration we were being researchers. Kath Murdoch explains researchers as being curious, courageous and resourceful. Researchers create thick questions. They gather information from a variety of sources and think critically about it. They are also careful to acknowledge the sources of their information.

Title from book Thick or Thin Questions

Each class worked on creating some questions that would allow us to explore the idea of a loose parts playground and what would be needed to make it successful. We soon extended our original question to another question as we were all curious to find out what the benefits of a loose parts playground might be.

Classes watched videos, read snippets from web articles and PDF documents, looked closely at photographs and collated data about what would be most useful in a loose parts play area. They were challenged to think about risk and safety.

We used Book Creator as a place to share our thoughts. This gave each class the opportunity to collaborate online and practice being sensible digital citizens especially when 24 students were all working on the same book at the same time. Our character strengths of honesty, teamwork, curiousity, creativity, love of learning, perseverance and perspective help us online as well.

Loose Parts research book cover

After presenting our research in Book Creator we then had a chance to spend time in exploring the contents of our shipping container as a class and also with our buddy class. We found cardboard boxes, rope, foam shapes, pvc pipes and milk crates all very useful. Some of us created musical instruments, others worked together to make zip lines and there were cars, boats, shops and restaurants.

small loose parts being put together into a structure

Some classes also had the opportunity to explore scaled down loose parts play. Straws became pipes, string became rope, fabric squares became tarps and there where sticks of different shapes and sizes. One of the big restrictions was that all joining of items needed to be non-permanent so that all objects could be re-used. The instruction was “Create something with loose parts…..”

Our loose parts play area is now open at every recess lunch for all of our school to explore and invent new ideas each day.

What do you think makes a loose parts play area successful? Which items would you collect to add to our shipping container? Please leave a comment sharing your thoughts.

More Week of Taste

Last Thursday in 4/5 we had a chef, Stuart Rees, come to our classroom. He talked about places that he has been. When he was little he wanted to be an archaeologist. He used to go to his Grandma’s and watch her cook and he used to read his Mum’s cooking magazines. His Mum told a chef that he liked to cook and he had some work experience in the kitchen where he washed dishes and mopped floors and he didn’t like that very much because he wanted to cook.

He used to make banana cake and he gave each of us a little cake each. Banana cake was the first thing he ever learnt to cook. He never followed the recipe because he just did it his own way. He gave us a copy of his recipe for banana cake.

bananas Eric.Ray via Compfight

When he was 16 he entered a cooking competition and he had no idea of what he would cook. In the end he made pate and he came second. He still has his cup that he won.

There was poster at his work and it was advertising a trip to China to help teach kids to cook Australian food. He went to China for 4 months and he taught Chinese children to cook and this was hard because he didn’t speak Chinese and the interpreter sometimes made mistakes.

His favourite dish that he invented was with an oyster and a raw prawn wrapped pastry and cooked. He loved it but some of his work colleagues were not so sure.

Written by Kate and Alira

What is your favourite dish? Have you cooked banana cake? Please leave a comment sharing your thoughts.

Week of Tastes

Last Thursday in 3-4 Blue and Yellow we a chef, Massimo Mele, come in to our classroom. He came to show us how he makes a pizza called a calzone and tell us how he became a chef. He told us about becoming a chef.

cooking calzones

He started cooking at the age of 10 and then he was interested becoming a water policeman but instead he became a painter and a builder before he was a chef.

His Mum and Dad used to own a restaurant and it served Italian food. His whole family worked at the restaurant to help. His first ever meal he made was a fish curry.

He had his own restaurant in Sydney but he has now moved back to Tasmania. In Launceston he now has a new restaurant called The Grain.

To make our pizza we had to flatten our pizza dough and then we put cheese, ham, zucchini and parsley on top of the dough. We folded it in half – like a taco – and then it was deep fried in vegetable oil.

calzone ready to cook

It tasted like a pizza but also kind of like a bun. They puffed up when they were put in the hot oil. They had a crunchy outside. People thought they looked like tacos, burritos and potatoes. Written by Olyvia & Amelia

cooked calzone

Have you ever made calzone? Do you like pizza? Please leave a comment sharing your thoughts.

More of Our Playground Ideas

We have come to the last week of term and the final sharing about our playground investigations. The 5/6 and 4/5 classes have completed their double page spreads and their book is done. Each section shares the idea that a pair of students worked on as a suggestion to solve one of the two problems their class worked on.

Possible problems
Here is the list of possible problems that our 6 classes are now working on.

When publishing their work each group needed to think about the content and the layout of the page so that their readers will clearly understand each idea. By using Book Creator the groups were also able to add audio to their page to add more information.

Read our Book
Follow the picture link to read about the ideas for our playground by the 5/6 and 4/5 classes.
What do you think about the ideas dreamed up by our classes. Have they given you any good ideas. Please leave a comment sharing your thoughts.

Sharing Our Playground Improvement Ideas

All of the classes investigating our big question – “Does our playground meet our needs?” – have been working hard to come up with a solution to the problems chosen for their class.

Possible problems
Here is the list of possible problems that our 6 classes are now working on.

Students worked with a partner to created a double page spread sharing the final idea that they explored with our design process planning sheet. By doing this this they have come to the last stage of the design process we have been learning about – Share.

image of the design process - ask, imagine, plan, create, improve, share

Time constraints and a planned excursion to explore some nearby playgrounds has limited the time that our grade 3/4 classes had to spend on the improve section of the design process but everyone has been able to share their ideas in a book created using the Book Creator app. The other four classes are still working on their ideas and will share their book in another blog post.

Mrs S has shared the book online so that our classes can share our ideas with other classes, teachers, parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, carers, sisters, brothers and any one else who may be interested in seeing their creative ideas.

Read our Book
Click on the cover of our book to read about our ideas.
What do you think about the ideas dreamed up by Grade 3/4 B and Grade 3/4 Y. Have they given you any good ideas. Please leave a comment sharing your thoughts.

Continuing our Playground Inquiry….

After adding all of our dots to our satellite image the classes worked with a partner and in whole groups to come up with some survey questions that would give us some more information about our needs in our playground. Mrs S collated these and looked for the commonalities between each class to create an online survey for all the classes to complete.

Survey title and number of responses

During the time each class spends with Mrs S and their class teacher students completed the survey. It was very interesting to see the results automatically update as each student submitted their answers. Our classes all saw how efficient it was to use an online survey tool that collated the results as they were entered and created graphs of the data.

The survey data added more information about where students like to play and also what they like to do outside.

graph of favourite places

We found out that our oval is the most popular play area and the second most popular spot is our netball courts. There are quite a number of students who would still like to be able to play in the junior playground. Some of these students like the sheltered areas that are there and other would like to play with brothers and sisters.

After talking about our results it was time for each group to try and identify some playground problems. Mrs S and our teachers reminded us that we were searching for solvable problems. We found that some problems were people problems, others were space problems, some were safety problems and some were more to do with dreaming of changes we could make to our outside play area.

After working with all 6 classes Mrs S was able to come up with a list of eight ideas. Each class narrowed this down to two and are now focused on imagining clever solutions.

Possible problems
Here is the list of possible problems that our 6 classes are now working on.

We will be trying to persuade others about our ideas by creating a presentation that describes the solution we have imagined for each problem.

Which problem would you choose? How would you solve it? Please leave a comment sharing your thoughts.

Investigating an inquiry question…

By Javid44 [CC BY-SA 4.0 ], from Wikimedia Commons




This term we have started to explore an inquiry question. Using the design process we are asking questions and collecting data to find out if there are any problems that we might be able to create a solution to help solve.

Our big question seems simple but when we started to think carefully each class found that it led to many more questions and the need to do some research and collect some data.

Does Our Playground Meet Our Needs?

As part of our data collection Mrs S put up a large satellite image map of our playground and each class was invited to add their data. Each class was asked the same two questions.

  • Where do you love to play in our playground?
  • Is there anywhere you do not like to play? Where?

Every student was given 3 yellow smiley face stickers and 3 red frowning face stickers so that they could add them to the large image. After having time to explore a colour satellite image from Google Earth everyone was able to add their dots to the map. You did not have to use all 6 stickers. We were collecting visual data about where we like to play.

After each class had added their dots Mrs S took a photograph so that we were able to see how our data changed over time.

dots after one class

dots after 2 classes

dots after 3 classes

dots after 4 classes

dots after 5 classes

dots after 6 classes

Some of the areas in our playground became so covered with dots that there was a slight mound when you carefully touched the map. Layers of dots covered the ones underneath.

What questions do you have about our collected data? Are you wondering why each dot was placed in a certain place?

Please leave a comment sharing any questions you might have.

Working with the Design Process

This year our classes have been exploring the design process. Architects, engineers, scientists and students can use the design process to help solve problems. These problems may be small, big, imaginary or real and in each case the design process helps break down the problem into smaller steps.

image of the design process - ask, imagine, plan, create, improve, share

Students had two challenges to complete and learned more about the steps in the design process as they completed these challenges.

Challenge one used only one building material and asked students to design a safe but tall structure for a little plastic bear to be able to see better in the classroom. We named all the bears – Harry.

In our second challenge there were more materials to choose from and the challenge had changed slightly. Harry still needed a safe, tall tower but there also needed to be a way of going up and down. The size of the groups building together also were larger.

Can you see the extra materials we had? Can you see some ways of getting up and down? Please leave a comment to tell us what you can see.

Creating with Our ICT Buddies

Some of the classes have been working hard with their buddies. They have been app smashing to create an online book all about the friends of ten. They used ArtRage to receive a tracing image via Airdrop. They took a screenshot and cropped it after they had finished working with the image in ArtRage. They Airdropped the image back and Mrs S created a book in Book Creator. They received the book via Airdrop and added the text to the pages.

We use the Friends of Ten maths strategy to help us when we are working with numbers. We might be combining numbers together. We might be finding out how much more to get to 10 or 20 or even more.

Knowing our Friends of Ten can help us with some other maths strategies. We can Think 10 or Make 10 and add what is left. We can think 1 more than 10 or 1 less than 10 to help us add numbers together.

How would you use the Friends of Ten to help you solve a maths problem? Please leave a comment sharing your thoughts.

1 Youd

On the 16th of November we had an assembly, one the classes that shared was 1 Youd. They talked about the narratives they wrote. They firstly shared about the types of things you need to make a story like, a heading, a story line and other things like that. Then they all shared the name of their story. All of the stories looked great. They also  did a drawing on the front cover of their book and did an amazing drawing throughout their books. Towards the end of their presentation one of the students read their book to us. It was about a crazy house. It was really well and it was really funny. It looked like everyone enjoyed the presentation a lot and it got a massive clap at the end.

Do you enjoy writing stories? What do you like writing about. Please leave a comment to share your thoughts.