Summer time.

It is finally nice enough to go outside and we are finally done with school, so we have the time. Where do we like to head? Well, other than the pool, the playground is our destination of choice.

One of the best parts of the playground is the abundance of opportunities for imagination, and we have plenty of chance to learn as we embrace our imagination! Here are some of the fun things we learn at the playground.

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playground traffic safety1. Traffic. Our playground has traffic signs and right and left lanes for riding bikes. Raisin loves to follow the rules! He learns about stop signs, yielding, riding on the right (the lines are fading this year but we know they are there), parking in a parking spot (pretend parking meters line the “parking lot”), and he even learns about roundabouts, as the playground has one.

2. Digging and buildingAs anyone who’s tried to dig with a playground digger knows, it’s a lot harder than it looks! Perfect for coordination, diggers help kids figure it out. Plus, it’s fun to try to create the biggest mountain! My son likes to add water to the sand to try to make a sand castle (also something much harder to do than it looks!).

3. Going to the moonIn the board book Higher! Higher! by Leslie Patricelli, the child swings so high she feels like she is over the buildings and all the way in space. I don’t know if it was the board board that inspired the “moon” game, but my kids love it. My son has expanded his swinging adventures to include the sun and the other planets. He’s even taken to researching what the planets look like so when he visits Mars or Venus, etc., he knows what to tell his little sister what it looks like. Swinging definitely becomes a learning game for him.

playground restaurant4. Restaurant. Raisin loves the table and benches set up at the playground. It is just perfect for running a restaurant. He makes an imaginary menu, sets prices, and “cooks” the food. Perfect for developing restaurant waiter manners, learning about money (how much is the total?), and creating with his imagination. 

5. Dinosaur attack. Our local park has dinosaur-shaped spring rockers. Strawberry loves pretending to chase with them, although, of course, she remains stationary. She has even learned the names of the different dinosaurs!

6. Secret messages. Writing in the sand is a tricky way to get Raisin to practice his spelling and letter writing. But I won’t tell him! To him, he’s just sending me a secret message I find.

7. Train adventures.  Raisin has never stopped being interested in trains, so it is no wonder that he has a blast creating scenarios with other kids using the three car train at our local playground. A train heist? Sure! A trip to visit Grandma? Why not? Strawberry likes crawling around through it too. And of course, we can learn about train safety rules while we are at it.
playground train8. Up and down. The teeter-totter is a fun way to review the basics of simple machines. Why does it not go down when it’s Strawberry and Raisin? Why do they need another child to balance it out? Raisin has figured it out. Strawberry simply loves going up and down. That seems like enough learning for her!

playground firemen9. Emergencies. The huge climb-on fire truck is perfect for community helper practice. Strawberry loves imagining that she is driving, and Raisin extends the imagination to helping in emergencies. He loves creating scenarios and rushing the injured to the hospital. Why do a unit on community helpers when going to the playground teaches Strawberry all she needs to know for now?

10. King of the castle or pirate ship or… You fill in the blank. There are so many choices of what the climber can become at the park. It’s nice that in summer there always seem to be a playmate to join in the imaginative fun. The bonus is when something gets learned in the mean time.

I don’t want to enforce a lot of formal learning during the fun summer months, so I’m always glad when a trip to the playground allows for fun learning to happen naturally.

What do you like best about your local playground?

This week, I’m teaming up with other kid bloggers on the Kid Blogger Network (KBN) to share learning activities for the summer! It is time for the Second Annual School’s Out blog hop! Click over to This Reading Mama to see dozens more summer learning and fun ideas.
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 All images copyright Rebecca Reid.

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