Play Workshops with the Play Lab

In these workshops, we were interested in learning about how the children play in the Meadow Well area. In particular, what the children saw as barriers to play, what was meaningful in the local area, and what types of things they might like to do with IoT.

The children have always loved drawing together and so as a warm-up activity we asked them to draw themselves playing outside with friends and throughout prompted them with some questions, for example, what stops you playing outside? The children commonly drew street furniture and talked with each other about the games they played outdoors. Street furniture varied but included things like green telephone exchange boxes, bushes, and lamp posts. These often featured in their games as bases or places to count in games like ‘hide and seek’. Two of the children reflected on a neighbour who would often tell them not to play because they were trying to sleep (worked night shifts). We found that children were often told to be quiet, or not to play in particular areas and a degree of resilience was needed for them to persevere in their play ventures.

Following this, we gave the children some maps of the local area. We wanted to see exactly where the children played and hoped the map would prompt them to consider their local neighbourhood. In this case, the children had clear boundaries set by parents, they knew exactly where they could and couldn’t play. If siblings were present the children were often allowed to venture further. One map served as a reminder that outdoor play is not always boisterous, with one of the children drawing a quiet and relaxing space she would go with a friend.

Following the mapping activity, we asked the children to locate a game they like to play on the map by drawing on a pre-cut card. We then ventured out into the local area to hang the cards in places that were important to the children. This was an opportunity to have the children respond to the actual spaces in which they play. There were numerous pockets of green space that were popular with the children (in particular a rope swing) and the role of each other’s gardens in outdoor play was clearly apparent.