Over the course of the 2014-15 school year, Lower School students in grades K through 5 were instrumental in sharing their thoughts about ways to improve collaborative and creative play during the recess. While many students enjoyed the swings that used to be on Rocky’s Field, they noted that four individual swings did not allow for multiple users and often did not allow time for all students to have a turn using the swings. They also commented that as students patiently waited, they did not have anything interactive to do, which sometimes led to frustration.
One 4th grader, Charlie Levine – currently in 5th grade, noted that cultivating patience and relaxing are important during recess. He championed having a hammock of sorts as a part of any new design concept. All student ideas were charted, discussed and considered.
Ms. Lewis and Ms. Abramson added their thinking to the early concept designs and planning. They both shared how important it is for students to build their core strength while playing. They also believed that students should have equipment that stimulates and promotes creativity and engagement. The potential for any new equipment to be located in the shadow of the Hajjar STEM Center also added to the desire to incorporate STEM elements into play!
Kompan Playground Company is known internationally for promoting the following in communities around the world:
- *Healthy Play,
- *Healthy Children
- *Healthy Environment
Ms. Lewis worked with the Kompan Company in her former schools in Philadelphia and thought Kompan would be a great fit for this new initiative. The Recess Committee, Ms. Lewis, and Ms. Abramson met with Mr. Christian Valdez from the New Jersey regional offices of Kompan each month from January through June 2015. They brainstormed ideas, conducted lots of research, selected and tested some equipment. Nurse Krane, Mrs. Franco, and the recess teachers, Ms. Euleta and Mr. Fay, were also included in the discussions and planning for this new play space.
These design meetings led to the selection of the new pieces called the Supernova and the Kuma. Below are excerpts from the Kompan literature about each piece:
“The Supernova works as a product for individual or cooperative play by harnessing the effects of gravity with our unique slanted ring configuration. When one child engages the Supernova, the product reacts to their movements and multiple games can occur, such as attempting to reach the top while the ring rotates to send you back to the bottom. Each additional child causes a change in the dynamics of the product such that children can operate the rotational speed and direction by moving relative to each other. The more children, the more fun! The combination of social interaction and movement makes the Supernova the biggest attraction on the playground.
“The Kuma offers lots of play opportunities with varying degrees of difficulty. At either end of the structure, a curved climbing ladder and a climbing wall with cleats encourage kids to test their strength and hone gross motor skills. The overhead cable ladder, which connects these two events, provides further upper-body training. Since the cables move and are asymmetrically spaced, children must skillfully shift themselves across, using arm and leg leverage in an unaccustomed fashion. At one end of the Kuma, a gently rocking playshell seat (Charlie’s Hammock) offers a place to gather and chat. At the other, a triangular rocking frame inspires interesting balancing games.”
Last week, Mr. Valdez came in to share a bit about the installation process. He also met with various grade level groups to share some important safety and play information about each piece. Thankfully, the weather held up this week allowing various grade levels time to try out both pieces.
The 2014-15 Recess committee would like to thank Dr. De Jarnett, Mr. Bruce Devlin, Ms. Lewis, Ms. Abramson, the faculty and staff for the support of their ideas!
A 2015-16 recess committee will get underway during the winter months. They will gather feedback about the new equipment and will discuss and plan for next steps – Should there be more swings? Should we consider installing a zip-line? The possibilities are endless! We look forward to hearing their ideas!