Thursday, August 3rd, 2017

Planning for Play: it’s all about the unexpected..

During the workshops in The Gambia we found out lots of things; some of them were answers to questions that we didn’t even know we had asked!  One of the amazing things about testing out ideas is that it’s a bit like throwing everything up in the air and seeing where everything falls. The things that you pick up and put back together are often surprising and really not what you thought, but this is why it is so incredibly important and vital to do! For more information on the Planning for Play project click here

The following summarises the different things that we found out

Zoning of spaces

The main things which were of notice were the need to zone areas for different ages and different types of play. Therefore space has been allocated to each class within the playground with a more discreet space for the youngest children.

Quieter activities

Children also engaged with other activities as well as playing when they use the playground; we saw children who found quiet spaces, children who wanted to draw and write, children eating and children socialising. The plan includes spaces for each of these activities, some of which are duplicated in spaces for different ages. There will be bantabas for socialising and chatting and blackboards for drawing and writing.


Children drew animals that they are familiar with such as the animals which are pets or farmed in the village fish, chickens and cows. If we represent animals in the playground we will reflect the animals that children drew rather than the lions and elephants that may be associated with Africa.

Mobile elements

One of the key elements was the children’s enthusiasm for playing with moveable elements. I had noticed that children were moving elements around the tunnels and hills when we returned and when we provided further materials children response very positively. Teachers also requested more ‘games’ to help them to teach outside and for the children to play with.  Additionally, the teachers requested a store. In this way, elements which we had not considered as part of the playground have become a very essential part of it. At the next stage, the intention will be to work with the teachers and the mobile elements to help them to explore and discover a range of ways of playing and learning with the children. Based on our trials with the palm-woven tunnels and baskets we are planning on commissioning some shapes woven from palm which can be used to build with. Maget had concerns that the tunnel would not last and could be dangerous as spiky but when we talked to the man who could make the items he said that he could weave them to be strong and safe.

A store for keeping everything in

The teachers were very keen to create a store which would sit near to the playground to keep toys and equipment in.

A fence to protect the space

From observations in the playground on the first day of term and other occasions, it became apparent that a fence will be necessary. This had originally been included as part of the brief for ‘The School Project’ but was excluded due to lack of time and money during that project. This gave time to assess whether a fence is actually required. On investigation the fence was found to be something that is necessary to protect the children’s space. There is an issue in that the classrooms back on to the football pitch and often the ball is kicked into the playground or the roof of the classrooms. It will be necessary to consider the balance between protection of the space and allowing access to gain the footballs/

Muddy space

During initial conversations in the UK prior to leaving for The Gambia, Aga and I had discussed the possibility of incorporating a mud kitchen in the playground, but had not taken the idea any further. Through the workshops, the children showed how they enjoyed the sensory exploration using water and sand. The teachers mentioned that there is a possibility of getting clay locally to use in this area on occasion.

Musical instruments

Children adapted empty barrels, turned-upside-down plastic plant pots and whatever else they could find and drummed on them. Drumming is an integral part of village life, so ideas have been collected together to make a ‘musical house’. This will be developed very much with the workers and the village in the next phase.

The following images show how the work that we carried out with the children influenced our ideas for planning space for play!

Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

My Masters in Interior Design: Planning for Play

I have been studying part-time for an MA in Interior Design which at the University of Brighton since 2014 and have now finished! It has been great to explore new ways of expressing ideas, learning about design, gaining new skills and perspectives and meeting new people.

For my dissertation (or what is called a ‘Masterwork’) I decided to focus on participation in design, and how practices which have been established in the UK and Europe can be applied to a different context – that is, a rural village in The Gambia.

I wrote a couple of blogs about the progress which you can read here, and will soon post some of the thoughts and findings from my Masterwork, which was called Planning for Play. In the meantime, have a read of these blogs.

Can Participatory Design Techniques Help A Rural Village In The Gambia Take Play Seriously

Wednesday, April 18th, 2012

The role of children’s museums is changing, reports the New York Times.

I agree and like the references to what’s going on in children’s museums in the States, but object to the fact that they refer to children’s museums as places which are just about fun. There’s lots of places with lots of learning going on through play.

Wednesday, January 26th, 2011

The playground in Gloucester – progress

I have started a diary blog for the playground project in Gloucester. Click here to see what’s going on and to follow the blog. It will be thoughts and ideas as I go along about the collaborative design process with children and the school.

Thursday, November 25th, 2010

The New Museum Community

The New Museum Community published by Museumsetc examines in depth how museums globally are succeeding – in many different ways – in reaching and involving social groups traditionally overlooked or excluded from the museum experience. The New Museum Community: Audiences, Challenges, Benefits is an invaluable and inspiring guide for any museum, gallery or cultural organisation – large or small – intent on engaging with the broadest possible audience.

I have written two essays: Planning for Young Children and Families in Museums and Creating Exhibitions With and For Children.

Thursday, November 25th, 2010

Playground go-ahead

Longlevens Infant School in Gloucester is re-designing their playground, with the children. Alison Cockroft and I will be working with them to create their own fantastic awe-inspiring playground.

Monday, November 22nd, 2010

Potted Panto!

The teacher’s pack for Potted Panto is up on the website.

“Oh no it isn’t!”

Oh, yes it is!

Download PDF here

Wednesday, November 3rd, 2010

Experimenting with interactivity

David Parker from Figment Arts and I have been working with some boys from the Cedar Centre exploring identity and different ways of ‘putting ourselves in the picture’. This is the beginning of a longer project where we will produce an interactive and immersive artwork which can be enjoyed by the school and the community.

Wednesday, May 12th, 2010

Extraordinary Measures!

The booklet is here!

Tuesday, May 11th, 2010

Inspiring things

YoungHyun Chung – wheelchair art

Osman Khan – Sur la Table

Camille Utterback – Text Rain

Amanda Long – Silly Faces

Friday, April 30th, 2010

Association of Children’s Museum Conference

I’m off to the ACM conference in St Paul, Minnesota next week. Looking forward to little stop in NYC and visit to Funky Forest at Moomah and other lovely places.

Sunday, March 21st, 2010

So, what’s new?

Nearly finished the Extraordinary Measures booklet with Jay. All looking good!

And I have submitted my essays for New Museum Community to be published by museumsetc, out in April.

And this Wednesday sees me doing an online presentation with Heather Nielsen from Denver Art Museum on Planning for young children and families, again with museumsetc.

I went to a really interesting conference at the London Transport Museum, called “Getting Serious About the Early Years” – organised by the Renaissance London Learning Group

And still playing with and working with the idea of the beginning steps for  a children’s museum in Mumbai….

Busy busy!

Tuesday, February 16th, 2010


I’m working on an article for a new publication due out in April from MuseumsEtc – “Making places playful: How to creatively involve young children and their families in the development of hands-on exhibitions”  and an online seminar on 24th March called “Planning and Designing for Children and Families in Museums”

You can buy a copy of the book here

Tuesday, February 16th, 2010

Extraordinary Measures

Enjoying working on this. The artists are all really fantastic, the place is eerie, and we are going to do a fantastic booklet! See who is going to be exhibiting there: Ron Mueck, Slinkachu, Tessa Farmer, Mat Collishaw, Mariele Neudeker, Freddie Robins as well as MGA architects and Ciaron Treanor.

Friday, January 22nd, 2010

Belsay Hall, Extraordinary Measures

I am really pleased that Jay and I will be working on developing an exhibition resource for a new exhibition at Belsay Hall. It’s a really exciting exhibition with artists Ron Mueck, Tessa Farmer, Slinkachu, Mat Collishaw, Mariele Neudecker and all about distortion, perception, BIG and small. Jay is from Limbic Fish and designed this website with me, so I think we’re going to have lots of fun.

Thursday, January 7th, 2010

Here is to a fabulous 2010! So, what’s coming up? I am working on how to go about setting up a children’s museum in India, finding work in Brighton, thinking about an upcoming acting course. All is good and looking exciting!

Wednesday, December 16th, 2009

Mumbai news

I had a really exciting trip to Mumbai! I met with Sophie Ahmed from the Teacher’s Educational Resource Centre in Mumbai. We talked about how we can make the resource centre more accessible to more people. I also met with Simran at BlueFROG who are interested in running a community programme. So lots to think about there in helping with getting that up and running. Oh and of course it was great to spend time with Rayna Jhaveri and talk about all our ideas for touring exhibitions, storytelling and much much MORE!

Wednesday, November 18th, 2009

Inspiration comes from funny places

Welcome to my new website. Please bear with me and Jay as we get it up and running and iron out anything funny! In the meantime, let me know your thoughts…

I am off to India on Monday 23rd November to follow up working with Blue FROG and INNOVAID as well as catching up with lots of other people. Back 9th December.

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