Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Make every place a playful space

Would you like to swing on a bus stop? Bruno Taylor shows you how.


Yesterday Hattie went to the Nuffield Foundation for a presentation of the research undertaken by Professor Peter Blatchford and Dr Ed Baines into the 'social and educational significance of school break times'. Hattie was an advisor to the study.

The research showed that school break times are being reduced in time and number across the country and particularly at secondary level. One extreme example is the new Academy built in Peterborough (Norman Foster designed) which has no playground at all -
"We are not intending to have any playtime. Pupils won't need to let off steam, because they will not be bored" - Headteacher.
"We have taken away an uncontrollable space to prevent bullying and truancy"
- Project manager.

The research shows that breaktimes are overwhelmingly popular with pupils and that secondary school students in particular want longer lunch times - many are only half an hour long. Staff value break times as a space where pupils can get physical exercise and develop important social skills.

Taking away outdoor space and controlling every aspect of the student's environment flies in the face of other government initiatives such as Every Child Matters, Learning Outside the Classoom, and worries about obesity etc.

To find out more, see: The Social and Educational Significance of School Breaktimes by Peter Blatchford and Ed Baines. Psychology and Human Development, Institute of Education, London.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Places for Spaces

This week we've been running a Places for Spaces workshop for Solent Architecture Centre. Here are a couple of photos showing councillors, council officers, developers from Brighton, Southampton and Portsmouth experimenting in Cosham High Street with the help of large foam blocks, carpets and parasols. (this equipment has been developed for Hampshire's Big Landscape Project and is available to any secondary school wanting to experiment with their outdoor spaces.)

Friday, April 25, 2008

Adult's play

In Manchester a playground for the elderly opens.
(Not one of ours but a nice idea).

In London a woman and a cuddly toy shark are seen asleep on the tube.

this is happening

Hattie Coppard of Snug & Outdoor spoke recently at THIS HAPPENED, a regular series of events on interactive design.

Organiser Chris O'Shea is doing a 6 min talk on tuesday (20 slides, 20 seconds per slide) and wrote to tell us that Snug & Outdoor feature in it.

Chris says: it's about the playful things that i like essentially.
this is the event:

Oh and here are lots of links to good blog coverage of Hattie's appearance:

Theres about 10 pages of photos here

these happening people

this is happening too

1968 And All That, 10 May 2008
South Place Ethical Society, Conway Hall, Red Lion Square, London WC1

The Child at Play

Ken Worpole

Images of children at play in the streets and on the bomb-sites of post-war Europe created a new sensibility around childhood and notions of a better world to be made. Children's street games anticipated the reclamation of the streets as a domain of liberty well in advance of the events of 1968. Ken Worpole looks at the role that photographers such as Nigel Henderson, Roger Mayne, Bert Hardy, Jimmy Forsythe and song collectors such as the Opies and JTR Ritchie played in shaping a vision of childhood as a realm of liberty and freedom of expression, which set the tone for free politics in the 1960s.

2pm, Library, Free Admission

Ken Worpole is a writer on architecture, landscape and public policy. A new edition of his
study of radical fiction, Dockers & Detectives, has just been re-published
by Five Leaves Publications.

Nicolas Walter (1934 - 2000) was an anarchist, secularist and writer on
social questions. His book, The Anarchist Past and other essays, is
published by Five Leaves Publications.

"1968 and all that" is a day of celebration - one, two, many meetings - and an all day book fair. Full details on

Problem Playground

"Isn't every problem a playground?" That's the punchline for this new car advert which also refers to the current trend for seeking solutions by opening them up to the wisdom of the crowd.

Persil's 'DIRT IS GOOD' was another advertising campaign that said great things about the joys of messy play. Any more examples of play in the media (good or bad) are welcome.

What's to come

Hattie's been reading Homo Ludens by Johan Huizinga in preparation for the talks she'll be giving on the Robin Sutcliffe roadshow this summer. Watch this space for time and dates and wise thoughts on why play matters. What's the most inspiring thing you've read about play? Please share it here.

Snug's brilliant designer Michael Cross has an exhibition of his own work opening in Belgium shortly. Meanwhile he and Tim are busy finalising designs for Chimney Park in Dublin's docklands. You heard it here first.

Snug's amazing new administrator Karee is building a database of contacts to help us market the wonderful Snug Kit to schools around the UK and the planet. Please let us know of anyone you think we should be contacting.

We have a SNUG group on Facebook too. It's only small so far - why not join the playground revolution? Click here now.

Snug pics - Remembering the Launch

Strategy strategy

This Guardian article is a useful starting point for looking at the Governement's play strategy.


Snug and Outdoor are launching this blog as a means to keep people in touch with the full range of our activities, and in the hope of building a network of people and agencies interested in ensuring that play provision in the UK inspires experimentation.

We'll be keeping you in touch with our own work and looking out for articles, books and events that might be of interest to others in the field.

Current Government funding for play may provide a once in a lifetime opportunity to transform the 'playscape' of possibilities available to young people.

This blog is guest edited by Chris Meade, writer and co-Director of if:book, an agency looking at the potential of new media for creative reading and writing. He's interested in the link between playground games and the imagination. Chris was previously Director of the Poetry Society and Booktrust.

We're keen to find a pool of people who would like to contribute to this blog.
Please leave comments, suggest links and spread the word about what we're doing.