Alternative play options at lunch time

The creative and imaginative spaces at Holy Name Primary School, Forster, have opened up an avenue for students to explore new and exciting play options at lunchtime.

Since 2015, Holy Name have been developing alternate play options to suit the individual interests and needs of students.

The school grounds have been revitalised to become an inviting and intriguing community that is open to all students. These spaces have the ability to engage, motivate and challenge students to use their imagination, explore and learn together.

“Our playground areas have become hives of activity, said Acting Principal, Brooke Schumann.

“Each area is inclusive of students’ needs and provides a platform for students to mix with different year groups.

“Everyone seems to have found their space because there are now so many different play options for students,” she added.

These play options allow students to:

  • visit the library to play board games, maths games, craft activities or building blocks
  • tend to the school garden beds and veggie patch or visit the chickens and collect the eggs
  • participate in outdoor mini discos or play a large chess game on the pavers
  • join the ‘Just Dance’ or yoga sessions in the school hall
  • have a game of soccer, touch football or cricket on the infants and primary playground
  • play netball and basketball on the primary playground courts
  • engage with the outdoor classroom space with synthetic grass, log chairs and a chalkboard
  • enjoy the sectioned off dirt area to play with toy cars or trucks
  • play handball or skipping on the large concrete spaces

“The aim of each area is for students to practise everything from develop their social skills in real situations to deepening friendships and from working their way through problems to learning to seek help when they’ve exhausted their own strategies,” said Brooke.

“Each area also involves a particular skill set such as learning how to play games like soccer, netball or handball as well as how to move and be active in ‘Just Dance’ or the ‘Disco’ on the one hand to how to be calm with ‘Yoga’ on the other.

“These physical activities also provide an opportunity for students to develop their coordination of gross motor movements.”

Inspiration for this project has evolved over many years, with Holy Name drawing on feedback from the Learning Support Team, parents, students and teachers. It has also continued to develop as part of the Gifted Education Lead Schools Project and Early Learning Policy.

“Following the recent launch of the policy, we extended our thinking into the playground as it seemed to work in nicely with our desire to cater for all students, both gifted and support needs, as well as the interests of parents and teachers and our need to focus on the continual improvement of our school.

“The Early Learning Policy has provided the guidance and permission we needed to turn what would have been unused smaller pieces of our playground into creative and imaginative spaces for our students to play.”

It acknowledges the differences that exist in student abilities and in the need for some students to mix with older students in intellectual, creative or social domains.

To find out more about Holy Name, click here.

Gabrielle Sutherland Image
Gabrielle Sutherland

Gabrielle Sutherland is the Communications Officer - Content for the Catholic Schools Office and regular contributor to mnnews.today.