Thursday, November 1, 2012

Is there joy in the alley?

This is a "make lemonade from lemons" post.

Our school's location this year includes no outdoor playground.  But, we do have an alley!

There is an alley between our school and the high school next door.  There is construction at one end of the alley, as a new YMCA is created, rendering the alley a virtual dead-end.

Our principal negotiated with the high school to close off the alley during the school day and use it as a play space.  Now, at different times of the day, students are using it.

Every morning our food truck arrives.  (Here we are, headed out for a walk, just as the lunch truck arrives.)

After the food truck comes, it is time to play in the alley. The first classroom outside gets to close the gate at the end of the alley, so that no trucks visit during playtime.  

(If a truck delivery must occur, we have all practiced getting our children quickly onto the adjacent sidewalk.)  

You'd be amazed at how much fun the long, open alley space can be.  Especially when you have been cooped up inside.  Let the children run!

When we go to the alley, there is plenty to do. We have hoola-hoops, chalk, and bubbles ready to go. The most fun of all comes from the new "Imagination Playground" blocks that our school purchased. These large, durable, yet lightweight blocks are stored in two enormous bins near our alley door, allowing us to make a playground every day...and pack it up and bring it inside when our outdoor session is over.

I wish I had a time-lapse camera to show you the daily transformation of the are four photos that give you a small taste of the fun....

When a class heads to the alley to play, the children all carry a block or two outside...

Bleak, you say?  No, it really is not!  I am amazed at how fabulous this "found space" has become. This flexible building system fosters teamwork, competence, gross motor skill, exploration, imagination, and joy! Every day, something new is created.

For the Big Cats, with a classroom alongside the alley, there has always been plenty to see.  And now, when it is our outdoor play time, there is always plenty to do!


  1. Nice, Maureen! I've heard you speak about this alley before & it's great to hear that new things are happening to help the students get outside. Those big blocks are awesome.

  2. These photos are so precious. I love what they are creating and your positive approach in a, what could be, difficult situation that you have clearly taken on as a opportunity. Amazing!

  3. Something new every day. Isn't that what a playground needs the most?