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Play is Powerful!

Elise Ricci is on the blog to talk about the power of play—and the power of community. Read on for details about how our playground took shape over the last few years. It was a true collaboration between our families, teachers, and students. We’re so happy to be back at school to enjoy the fruits of our community’s playful and intentional work. -Ed.

You can hear it when you walk through the front gate at UCDS. It’s that subtle hum of playful energy that permeates everything we do. As we wind down from this year’s summer projects, we want to take a minute and THANK YOU for all of your support at the last two community auctions; your generosity inspired some incredible improvements to our Labyrinth playground!

Long before bids were placed or paddles were raised, our teachers, administrators and even kids were thinking about the new playground. Early Elementary students pondered playground enhancements in their Math Vitamins, teachers formed a cohort and began to study how our students play, and our admin team began combing through different catalogs of equipment.

This approach was intentional. Students and teachers had a voice in the process, creating a sense of collaboration and spirit of play around the playground renovation.

Students had collaborative conversations & learning experiences with teachers over the last few years to help create the new playground, including:

  • Building a math playground during Math Vitamin
  • Journaling and reflection—students wrote about their favorite parts of the playground and why they enjoyed them
  • Collecting data—students surveyed their peers, asking them what they enjoy during play
  • Starting a Focus Group—a focus group of EE students explored play around the world by asking the questions: “What does a playground look like in different countries?” and “How might the environment influence play?”

Teachers also observed that our students loved running around and playing in open spaces; so we are especially excited for them to use the new turf spaces.

Today, the culmination of all of our work was so exciting to see! Happy students were so excited to play on the new structures—a highlight is the new slide that connects the upper and lower play spaces and the fun new climbing tower!

Below are a few images and videos that document the creation process—and the happy results of a wonderful, community-wide collaboration.

Please check out the evolution of the playground construction with this cool time-lapse video:

The Ribbon Ceremony was a huge success—here are a few highlights!

Your students are having a great first day!