With spring just around the corner, kids will soon be out on the playground—but in what condition will they find your playspace? Winter tends to leave all sorts of scars over asphalt and pavement, leaving you with a playspace of broken lines and faded colors. Maybe it’s time to upgrade to a custom Fit and Fun playspace, just ahead of the warmer, sunnier days!
However, like we’ve discussed in previous blog posts, designing a playspace isn’t quite as simple as just buying a few stencils and placing them wherever you want. While you could do that, your space probably wouldn’t be as effective and beneficial as it could be (unless you’re the luckiest person on the planet, which you probably are not), and a poorly designed playspace may not produce the same results as a playspace designed with recess zones in mind.
Remember recess zones? As a quick refresher, recess zones are areas on the playground that group specific types of recessed games together for ease and accessibility. For example, in the “Fitness and Skills Zone,” you might find games like hopscotch or activity circuits, whereas in the “Relaxation Zone,” you might find yoga, chess, or maps. There tend to be three (3) zones in a well-designed playground, two of which we’ve already mentioned. The third, the “Sports Zone,” is the space for kickball, basketball, soccer, four square, and other sports-related activities. But there can also be other zones that incorporate other types of recess activities as well, like a “Social/Emotional Wellness Aids Zone” that can include activities like the conflict-resolving Peace Path, friendship-based Buddy Circle, or the earth-themed Community Togetherness stencil to help kids who might be a little shy or new to a school. The possibilities are many.
With all this information in mind, we’ve designed a small little recess space that you can use today. The space incorporates all the elements of recess zones, and are broken down below by said zones.
FITNESS & SKILLS ZONE
The Fitness & Skills zone should be the first zone students see when exiting the school building for recess. Therefore, it should be the zone closest to the doors leading from the school to the playground. Within this zone, place our Ocean-Inspired Activity Circuit (since it’s getting warmer!) or the Fitness Activity Circuit if you’re looking for a more year-round appropriate stencil (unless you live in Florida!)
Next to it, place our Daisy, Dolphin and Butterfly Hopscotch; the Daisy and Dolphin hopscotches should be on the sides, while the Butterfly Hopscotch should be in the middle. This arrangement provides an aesthetically-pleasing look, in addition to placing high-energy activities close to the doors of the school. Expanding further out into the playground, nearer to the Sports Zone, place a pair or trio of Side Jumps alongside our custom Activity Stations (Basic) Package. Leave a small empty space separating the Fitness and Skills Zone from the Relaxation Zone.
A pair of Basketball Courts and a Kickball Set are necessary staples in any Sports Zone, so be sure to add them here. Three (3) or four (4) Four-Square Courts should also be placed within the Sports Zone for variety.
There is no set, necessary layout for how the basketball courts, kickball set, and four-square courts should be arranged around one another, but generally speaking you will want to place the kickball set furthest away from the school (to give the kids lots of room to run and play) and with ample free space between the sets. The basketball courts are best arranged one opposite the other, just like a professional court would, and can be placed between the kickball set and the Fitness and Skills Zone. If you don’t have the room to place the court keys opposite one another, side-by-side is fine too. The four-square courts don’t need a ton of room between them and can be clustered to the right of the basketball and kickball spaces, next to the Relaxation Zone.
The Relaxation Zone should be placed furthest from the school doors, and with enough space between the Fitness and Skills Zone and Sports Zone to provide a quiet place to relax. This needn’t be across the soccer field in a corner under a tree by the far fence of the schoolyard, but be wary of the space. One hundred (100) feet should do the trick, but the distance between the Relaxation Zone and the other zones will depend on how well sound carries at your particular school or outdoor space. More concrete and less grass? Sound will carry much further. Also, if you have the luxury of trees in your schoolyard, situate the relaxation zone near the shade of a few large ones: the shade will be of great benefit in May and June!
Yoga Poses, much like kickball and basketball, are necessary staples in any good Relaxation Zone. The peace, bodily control, and mindfulness that comes from regular yoga work should not be overlooked, even for elementary-age kids. Arrange the stencils in a circle around one another for best results. Besides the Yoga Poses, there aren’t any real set requirements for a good Relaxation Zone, so for our’s, we’re going to include a Tessellation Maze. Tessellation mazes are great stencils for multiple areas, and therefore we’re going to place our maze on the border between the Relaxation Zone and Fitness & Skills Zone as a sort of go-between. Set at a faster pace, the maze can be considered a Fitness & Skills Zone activity, but slow it down a bit and you get a perfect Relaxation Zone space that lets students work their creative problem solving skills while relaxing their bodies. Kids working in the Fitness & Skills Zone can also use the maze as a way to slow down their heart rate before moving to the calmer Relaxation Zone, that way they don’t disturb the kids who are already there. We’re also going to place a Number, Letter, Chess and Ladder Package between the maze and the Yoga Poses so kids can work their minds as well!
SOCIAL WELLNESS ZONE
An effectively zoned recess space needn’t have a Social Wellness Zone, but for the sake of our custom design, we’re going to include one. In it, we’ll place a Peace Path, to help kids in conflict resolve their problems without resorting to violence, and a Buddy Circle, where kids who are looking for a friend can go and stand to be invited by other groups of kids to play. We’ll also surround our Buddy Circle with our custom Inspirational Words stencil for the added confidence boost!
Social Wellness Zones like these help kids develop necessary communication and empathy skills that will carry them throughout education and life beyond.
Your recess space needn’t be designed exactly like this one; feel free to pick and choose what works for your custom space! However, making sure that your recess space is zoned is an absolute necessity, helping ensure your kids have a Fit and Fun recess.
What do you think about our custom recess space? Let us know!