August 30, 2019

School Playgrounds 101: The Essential Elements of Play and Learning

Play to Learn

This is part of a series of posts on the importance of school playgrounds and how to put research into action when designing a play space for students. If you want to learn more about the six essential elements of play and how they help promote physical activity and fitness through active play, request information about PlayOn!, the standards-based curriculum of creative learning activities to utilize on school playgrounds. 


Active Students Learn Better

Why are school playgrounds important? This is a common question we receive. The answer, in part, comes from a recent report by SHAPE America. Not only do active kids learn better, but physical education programs also teach them lifelong health skills.

According to the report, “Active and fit children consistently outperform less active, unfit students academically in both the short and long term.” Despite these findings, only Oregon and D.C. meet the national recommendations of weekly physical education. 

Four schools in Fort Worth, Texas, have tested different recess policies, allowing students breaks four times a day, with amazing results – students were more focused, more creative, and more likely to solve problems on their own rather than immediately running to a teacher.


Curriculum to Support Physical Activity in Schools

GameTime’s parent company, PlayCore, partnered with SHAPE America and a team of physical activity experts to craft PlayOn!. PlayOn! is a standards-based curriculum and guidebook with 125 playground activities, assessment tools, playground design considerations, funding resources, and more. Play On! promotes physical activity through well-designed playgrounds and and playground activities for grades PreK-5 used during recess, physical education, fitness activities, special events, and before/after school programs. It offers schools a creative way to maximize their playground investment while aligning to National Standards of Physical Education. Perhaps best of all, schools can foster a lifelong love of movement in an environment that children naturally love-the playground!


Tell me More!

In the coming weeks, we will look at the six essential elements of play–swinging, sliding, spinning, climbing, balancing and brachiating (overhead climbing)–and how a play area that incorporates each of these contributes to a student’s health, wellbeing, and academic success. You’ll meet educators PlayOn! as part of their physical education program, and you’ll see students being more active at recess with their friends.


If you can’t wait for the next blog post, request more information about PlayOn! Or contact your local GameTime representative for ideas on creating the perfect school playground.