Fall Creek and Northeast Elementary Schools (Ithaca City School District) - in collaboration with Just Play Project and Pop-Up Adventure Play, are Reimagining Recess! and children’s time outdoors in the first east coast public elementary school loose parts play model. By improving play opportunities we believe students will increase the variety of play behaviors, interact in greater pro-social behaviors, and work creatively and collaboratively with peers - which all have been shown to positively affect academic learning.
Reimagining Recess! considers the people, places, and policies in creating supportive and innovative play environments for students during school recess to enhance student learning by 1) providing ongoing and embedded professional development training for school leaders, teachers, and Educational Support Professionals (ESPs) – rooted in the theories and practices of ‘playwork’; 2) providing engaging and creative loose-parts play materials during recess time to ensure ALL students have an opportunity for self-directed play. Evaluation of the project was conducted by Dr. Kim Wilkinson, Assistant Professor, Department of Occupational Therapy, at Ithaca College.
Deeply rooted in the Playwork Principles, defining play as “freely chosen, personally directed, and intrinsically motivated”. That is, children and young people determine and control the content and intent of their play, by following their own instincts, ideas and interests, in their own way, for their own reasons. Reimagining Recess! is looking to shift the ‘culture of play and recess’ by providing an outdoor play model to ensure ALL students have an opportunity for learning + development through self-directed play.
Loose parts are any material or object that can be moved, carried, or manipulated by children (e.g. wood, leaves, tubes, cardboard, tires, boxes, cloth, spools, crates, etc.). Compared to conventional playgrounds, environments with loose parts foster greater variety of play behaviors, more positive social interactions, and greater participation among girls, contributing positively to daily physical activity in middle childhood. Research suggests playgrounds that children participate in building themselves may better meet their developmental needs + promote healthy development and learning.