OPAL – Outdoor Play and Leaning
We are starting our OPAL journey! We want to ensure every lunch time can be an exciting, imaginative, and fun experience. We are developing the use of our grounds at school so that children can utilise everything we have to offer, including the field, the sensory gardens, the playground, the MUGAs and all other outdoor spaces during the whole of play time. Children will be able to mix with other year groups and there will be much more free play.
We are aiming for children’s play to be self-directed and intrinsically motivated as well as active and creative. We want to become the facilitators for the children’s imagination by creating a variety of spaces that allow for a deeper level of play.
Through this process, we want to improve play opportunities for the children, and we may need your help to do so. Together we can create something incredible! As we progress on this journey you children may get a bit messier, they may be exposed to more challenges, and they will have a greater freedom handed to them in terms of who and where they play. These new experiences are essential for children’s physical and mental wellbeing and are in line with all current food practice advice on health and safety, wellbeing and development.
Our school values at New Bolsover Primary are ‘Be the best you can be’ and it is vital that this ethos cascades from the classroom and out on to the playground. Play makes up 20% of school life and we want to give children the opportunity to be their best selves during this time. Through this sort of creative play, children can begin to embrace their imagination and give in to creativity.
In 2018, OPAL won the best active schools’ programme in Europe award and has been cited in two parliamentary reports as delivering outstanding practice. OPAL is working closely with Sport England to promote more active childhoods, which is one of the many reasons we are improving our playtime, as well as to improve opportunities for socialisation, cooperation, coordination, resilience, creativity, imagination and enjoyment for your child.
We strongly believe that: “Play is freely chosen, personally directed, intrinsically motivated behaviour that actively engages the child. Play can be fun or serious. Through play children explore social, material and imaginary worlds and their relationship with them, elaborating all the while a flexible range of responses to the challenges they encounter. By playing, children learn and develop as individuals, and as members of the community.” (Children’s Play Council 2001).
To facilitate this project, we will need to buy some new resources, move some things around on the playground and require some loose parts. Loose parts are any materials that can be easily moved, combined, and incorporated into children's free play. The items we are looking for will enable us to enjoy a wider range of play experiences during playtime (see below for some examples):
- Suitcases of any size and type
- Anything on wheels/castors
- Plastic milk crates/supermarket delivery crates/plastic bread trays
- Road signs and cones
- Kitchen pots, pans, baking trays, work tables, wooden spoons, chopping boards
- Tools like small spades/shovels, trowels and brooms
- Tubes of various sizes and various materials
- Fabric (large sheets/brightly coloured fabric)
- Foam sheets/bodyboards/camping roll mats/yoga mats
- Wooden pallets
- Metal frames
- Cable drums
- Noodles (the type you use in the swimming pool!)
- Hats/scarves/jazzy shirts/elasticated skirts/waistcoats/wedding dresses/character costumes
Soon we will begin collecting loose parts as the sooner we do this, the sooner the children will be able to play with the items! Please do not bring your donations in until a date is given as we will have nowhere to store them. This is an exciting time both for the school and the children and we look forward to working with the community to make this project a success.
There will be more information to follow via parent hub as we progress on our journey to become a Platinum certified OPAL school.
Link to OPAL website - Home - Outdoor Play And Learning
Link to example of OPAL play - Amazing Primary Playtime at St Michael's OPAL Platinum School - YouTube