The playground design came as a result of step-by-step process that involved the local folks in a community consultation—to know what it was they wanted and needed in a play space.
It also took into consideration the sponsor’s desire to be able to provide a space that not only allowed for free play for children but for it to be meaningful as well for them—for the parents and the children to know what values or skills they were learning as they play in each of the equipment created for them.
Here is a brief description of the values children can learn in the different areas of the playground:
The quiet area is separated from the other areas precisely to give space to activities that require more focus or concentration and those that involve more fine motor activities (the use of fingers, hands) and use of softer voices.
Rebar Threader (Values/Skills learned: Concentration, Perseverance, Task Completion)
This rebar threader allows the child to focus on the task at hand and encourages him to take on the challenge of passing the ring through the rebar without touching it. This activity encourages the child to make continuous attempts until the goal is achieved. In the process, the child develops a keen sense of concentration and perseverance—lifelong values he will need as he grows older.
Bahay Kubo/Classroom (Values/Skills learned: Creativity, Strategy, Teamwork Problem-solving, Language development)
The Bahay Kubo/Classroom allows the child to recreate his environment and his day-to-day activities in an atmosphere of play. This helps him deal with real-life situations and create solutions or resolve challenges he may be faced with. Because it is in the spirit of play, this encourages him to be creative and use the ideas he comes up with in actual situations. It also encourages the child to develop teamwork as the setting is naturally conducive to conversation, negotiation and agreement—values that are vital to collaboration in the older years.
Large Motor Area
Caterpillar (Values/Skills learned: Coordination, Balance, Concentration).
The Caterpillar encourages the child to develop coordination as he climbs on the tire structures (body) and reaches its head without falling off. The round tires increases its difficulty level as the child has to find the right spot to place his feet on. As he does so, he is motivated to use total coordination of his arms and legs and some concentration in order to achieve the balance needed to reach his goal.
Tire Track (Values/Skills learned: Balance, Strength, Agility, Speed)
The Tire Track is laid out to encourage the child to step in and out of the tires as fast as he can. In this process, the child learns to develop balance, strength and agility. This fast-paced coordination of different parts of the body encourages the child to learn how to do things quickly and properly – values important in later years – especially in work-related tasks.
Slide/Monkey Bars Area (Values/Skills learned: Balance, Coordination, Strength, Courage, Making Decisions, Taking Turns/Respect for Rights of Others, Language Development)
The Slide/Monkey Bars Area encourages the child to recognize the right of others to play in the area since only one child at a time can enter the tunnel. In taking turns and letting others go first, the child learns that other children have as much right as he does in that playground and that waiting for one’s turn is beneficial for everyone.
As the child takes his turn in the tunnel, he enters a hut and makes a decision whether to go down the slide, or to go to the monkey bars—a decision he has to make each time he uses this play equipment. When he decides to take the monkey bars, he is motivated to take on the challenge of swinging from one bar to another at a safe but elevated height. This requires a lot of courage and strength for some children but can be very fulfilling for them.
Sand Pit (Values/Skills learned: Teamwork, Communication, Concentration, Creativity)
The Sand Pit is a unique play structure in such a way that it promotes both social and solo play in the same area. It promotes social play when peers communicate with each other and agree on what they want to build together. In this play, it encourages peers to plan, negotiate and agree on tasks towards achieving a shared goal. It is also conducive to solo play when a child—who may wish to play by himself—learns to form structures with sand and in the process is able to develop and possibly hone concentration, planning and creativity.
Motorcycle Tires (Values/Skills learned: Creativity, Imagination)
The motorcycle tire structures encourages the child to use his imagination and engage in role-playing when riding a motorcycle—a relevant mode of transportation in that area as many of the residents use the motorcycle for livelihood purposes. This allows the child to recreate real-life situations in a playful setting. This is also an area where children – who may become future drivers—may be taught traffic and driving rules relevant to their age.
Swings (Values/Skills learned: Balance, Coordination, Courage)
The swing area encourages the children to learn balance and coordination as they mount on a swing and begin the back and forth motion. Balance is achieved only when there is coordination of the whole body. Further challenges include swinging with one hand, standing while swinging, etc.—skills that are further honed as the child’s needs develop.