scrap in the playground

“In my opinion,” writes Lily Holloway, “play is not about ‘learning via’ or ‘progressing’, its about being and relishing in that moment. The child at play is not something to tamper with, something that’s so magical shouldn’t have ‘learning outcomes’ and expectations.” and “All children should be supported to do what they enjoy, in and out of the classroom.”

So she goes and collects a bunch of scrap material [“…things like bed sheets, tubes, sticks, boxes, giant reels, ropes, giant cushions (that someone had kindly rescued from Radstock College skip), nets, junk modelling (which proved a personal challenge in such a large space) and many other foamy, plastic-y bits and bobs.”], and brings it to a primary school playground, and here’s one of the things the kids made:

“…the idea,” Hollaway explains, “was based on the theory of Fraser Brown’s Compound Flexibility (PDF – in an article about Playwork) – this said that the more flexible components/materials a child has within his play environment, he develops the strategies, resilience and skills to cope with adversity and change in daily life.”

A noble experiment, in deed. A gift, in fact. Even though, at the end of the day and after all the creative glee and the kids have dissipated, and we are left with eyes asparkle with the remains of the day, she finds herself:

“busy clearing away the scrap and this task was not going to be a light one. The amount of tiny pieces of paper and tape had made its way to every inch of the playgrounds, both of them. In the boiling heat with sunburn on my back, I soldiered on picking up every last bit of rubbish, and packing everything away for the next day of fun. But the parents didn’t even look over for longer than two seconds, they didn’t seem interested in the amount of stuff filling the playground that’s usually tidy and rubbish-free.”

Thus, once again, narrowing the distinction between play and work.

via Lily Holloway in her post I Wish we Had a Lily Everyday


  1. Lily on June 15, 2012 at 1:39 pm

    Every now and then, in the Kindergarten I worked in, the teacher would take down a box full of “junk” and just let the kids create. It was a basic montage of toilet paper rolls, string, bits of paper, cellophane, yarn, cotton batting, cotton balls, etc… Sometimes she would direct it a little based on the themes we had, as in “I want everyone to make some kind of farm animal”, and other times when she just wanted a chance to breathe and catch up on other school stuff, she would just let them create “whatever”. Those were fun afternoons.

    Love and laughter,
    Lily (Belland, not Holloway) :-)

  2. Lori Kane on June 15, 2012 at 6:25 pm

    Great idea! I think our coworking space needs a scrap box!

  3. Lily Holloway on June 15, 2012 at 9:05 pm

    Thank you Bernie for sharing!

    Loose parts is a magical explosion, taking children to other worlds! It is creative as well as being play in it’s raw entirety. Its best to provide these flexible tools with no leadership in anyway from any adult. Adult intervention is a no no. They will use it everyday, if you keep a box outside under tarpolin they can take it out and pack it away when they please. Its best to have tough items that will keep for longer than a couple of days, bits of paper can be used if playworkers don’t mind picking it all up! Play is work afterall!

    Thanks for the share, and to all you playworkers/school peeps out there- keep the space loose! And you will see some great play.

    Lily x

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