Re-design spaces with your students

Build to Think

Photo of Paula Marra
5 6

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Class: Kindergarten - JAM 

Our HMW: HMW re design our school playground to better meet the needs of all students?

Extra info: The JA team worked on a unit called "What We Do Affects Us all". In that unit the JA's looked at something they thought could be improved at our school. JAM chose to look at our school playground. We used the Design Thinking process to re-design it. We did this in French and in English for our JAM/MLD collaboration.


Observations: we observed the playground when not in use and when in use.

Empathy Interviews: we interviewed other grades to discover what they like the most in the playground and what they would like. We also spoke to the nurses and supervisors.

We researched playgrounds around the world and we looked at playground brochures.


We brainstormed our ideal playground (defer judgment = wild ideas allowed)

We then listed everything said by interviewees from JA to J4, we underlined feasible ideas then we clustered the ideas by looking at their commonalities. We realized that 3 different areas popped up.


We sketched our own ideal playground and gave a presentation on it to our friends (in English or in French). Afterwards we came to an agreement on what we thought we should develop as a team in each of the three areas we had identified earlier, and we prototyped it (see picture attached). The class was divided in three groups and each group tackled one of the areas.  


Afterwards we looked at our prototype and made it better, looking at where we placed things and thinking about safety. We also included floor games and a “merry-go-round”. Unfortunately in the picture you can not see the amazing floor games that were created as they, and the merry-go-round were still drying.

What did we learn by prototyping? 

That by prototyping our students were able to visualize the playground in use, they were able to see how many of the  playground ideas could fit in the available space, they could also visualize the different areas of the playground that came from Ideation (role play, active, relaxation/quiet area), and could notice that there were safety implications when locating/positioning some of the activities.  e.g not having a slide facing a wall.

Next Steps: JAM is scheduled to make a presentation of the re-designed playground to the principal, and we hope we will see some of the students' suggestions implemented in our playground.


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Photo of John Harp

I love how you get the youngest minds thinking creatively and building confidence from day one!  You rock!

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