Open space

What do we mean by an open space?

An open space is a large area generally flat surface: e.g. tarmac, wet pour, or a grass field. It’s a place for running around, playing ball games and wide games.

Most schools will have an open space as the trend for playgrounds has traditionally been a wide open and flat area. But how big that space is will differ.

a tarmac playground with colourful line markings

It is important to provide an open space for playing sports and being active, ideally this area would be set apart from the other activity zones so that the energetic activities don’t encroach on the quieter activities. 

An open space can also be an important link connecting the other activity zones, particularly for small playgrounds. Creating free flowing movement between the zones is important and the open space can serve as a good place to gather and meet friends before branching out into the wider play areas.

What do you already have?

Tarmac or wet pour (safety surfacing)

Active play:

You could add playground markings to create sports courts or activity trails and circuits or get the children to draw their own with chalk for activities like:

  • Cycling and skooting
  • Skill focused games such as football, netball, basketball, dodge ball 
  • Fitness circuit or running the daily mile
  • Children will make up their own games also, “rule games” that are more structured are popular in this activity zone

Outdoor learning:

If you haven’t seen Creative STAR’s website yet, check it out as there are lots of great suggestions for outdoor learning in the playground.

  • Get some big chalk and let the children get creative on a big scale
  • You could add numbers, grids and use found objects like sticks and stones to do maths outside.

Field or pitch

a grassy field bordered by a stone wall and fence

Active play:

You may not be able to add extra line markings to your field or sports pitch but you can still use this softer surface for:

  • Football
  • Running the daily mile
  • Gross motor skill development such as jumping, cartwheeling, skipping and rolling
  • “Chasing games” and “rule games”

Outdoor learning:

  • Again, the Creative STAR website is an excellent resource for activities.
  • the grass has natural learning potential over tarmac, you can do things like counting the different plant types in a 1m² grid.

What if you don’t have an open space like this?

Take a look outside the school gates, is there a park or public space that you could use? 

Using what’s available in our local area creates good links between the school, the learners and their community. Having good experiences within their local environment will enhance a learner’s relationship with the world around them.

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