Active play

two reception aged children experimenting with water flow on the outlast cascade

The outdoor waterplay system

There’s something about manipulating the movement of water that is irresistible. Which child hasn’t discovered the thrill of sticking their thumb under a tap to create a dramatic and drenching spray of water? It is an opportunity to explore, experiment, and observe – science at its best!

Community Playthings set out to discover how we could enable every setting to provide this type of play – even in urban locations with limited outdoor space. Here, finally, we can show you our new Outlast water play system – operated by a group of industrious little engineers completely absorbed in their play and exploration. Get ready for a waterfall! Watch now.

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boy with Outlast

Making it better for boys

You have given him time-out again, and you're beginning to wonder, "What makes him tick?" Most boys love risk-taking. They thrive on rough-and-tumble play and activities that involve lots of movement. They are fascinated with water, dirt, sticks, and loud noises. 

For some reason, many boys struggle in organised settings. And it's just a fact that most teachers and practitioners are women. How can we understand them better, so we can help improve the statistics for boys? Ali McClure has some interesting ideas.

Read more.
children doing cart wheels

Every child a mover

"Physical development sits at the heart of wellbeing, learning and development - and it creates school readiness."
- Jan White

Jan White’s latest book, Every child a mover inspires us to support physical activity in children.  She explores the different types of movement that children crave, and gives many ideas for creating a "movement-rich environment and culture."

Children develop through moving, particularly outdoors. Everything from balance and coordination to eyesight, handwriting, emotional development and "school readiness" is informed by the amount of physical activity a child engages in.

Every child a mover will help you look at your outdoor and indoor environment with new eyes, and find ways to provide rich opportunities for children to develop their full potential.

Read an excerpt and buy a copy of Every child a mover here.


play and creative writing

How play leads to creative writing

There is a Teaching School I love to visit near Birmingham for children with special needs. It is an exceptionally warm and caring place. During my last visit, staff explained that creative writing is incredibly difficult for their students who face a double hurdle: their physical challenges and their play deficit. Their disabilities have prevented the day-to-day play that is part and parcel of most youngsters' lives. If you've never played with objects and with friends, how can you play with words and ideas?

Their observation should give us pause to appreciate what play does for all children. Donald Winnicott believed creativity is what gives life meaning, and he said, "Perhaps it is only in playing that the child is free to be creative." He viewed play as the forerunner of art, sport, hobbies, conversation and humour. I believe it is also the forerunner of creative writing.
Boy at workbench

Understanding how boys learn

With four brothers and three sons, I've always been fascinated by boys' learning. Many teachers have observed that four- and five-year-old boys find it particularly difficult to sit still for long stretches of time. They need lots of vigorous outdoor play. Tricky fine-motor skills like holding a pencil or cutting with scissors become easier after large-motor action.

Men who recall their own childhood can support lads in appropriate ways – but men are scarce in early years. So the rest of us must do our best to understand all the children we work with. Boys often learn best through hands-on activities with real tools. If we focus on their strengths, we can provide what each child needs to feel happy and competent.

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