Our wish is to make our outdoor play area at Harbourside Elementary be a better reflection of our community and be an active area for students to play and learn together. We would like to create an outdoor sensory play area for our students. Currently there are not outdoor toys or equipment for the students in grades 4-6. Recycled materials could potentially come into play to create the playground/play equipment. Our goal is to recruit community partners from materials and to see the history of Whitney Pier reflected in outdoor play. We would love for our outdoor play area to build on (or mirror) the historical aspect of our community (particularly African Nova Scotians accomplishments). It is also our hope to make our outdoor classrooms feel different from indoor classrooms, in that children will learn differently. It is imperative that children are involved in this building process so that they see the value, time and historical elements attached to this project. Students and community members will hopefully feel connected and we will build community rapport by coming together and celebrating our community through this outdoor play area.
Tell us about your team and your school community.
Harbourside elementary is a pre-primary through grade 5 school located in The Whitney Pier, Sydney, Nova Scotia. With its beautiful location on the Sydney Harbour, students get to start their day with a spectacular view of the water. Our vision at Harbourside is to create a safe school climate where students are encouraged to respect and accept the individual differences of others, at the same time, developing their own self-esteem, critical thinking, and cooperative skills while working in an active environment. Harbourside’s team vision is to empower students to become active and healthy through a playful diverse environment. Through the use of play, students are engaged in an environment that fosters creativity, collaboration, and communication.
Tell us about the importance of learning through play for your team and for your students.
Although all 351 students at Harbourside would benefit from a sensory play area, our focus is on accessibility and inclusivity. Harbourside has vast programming. With a behavioral and academic center for students who need a little extra love and attention, and a High Needs Learning center for students who are working towards integration in the regular classroom. A sensory play area, that celebrates our communities’ culture, would be a fabulous way to teach these students how to play with others in a safe, inclusive environment. Our team believes that having sensory play on our school grounds, could help promote student well-being and to help develop and support social and emotional skills within students who are not yet using age appropriate skills independently. Our school counselor will also use this play area as a way to support students with relationship building.
Tell us about your interest in joining the Canadian Playful Schools Network.
Staff at Harbourside are so excited about joining Canadian Playful Schools Network. We want to teach our students to think critically and foster creativity in a caring, accepting, safe, and healthy school environment. Having a school playground will help us achieve this vision. It takes a lot to make a school great—it comes with hard work and determination. School climate, a cohesive staff, community involvement, and rigorous, fun instruction. Having professional development and collaborating with other team members will make us stronger. With the CPSN’s support throughout this process, we look forward to brainstorming ideas with other team members and seeing this idea come to life.