Recess in the Casa Playground

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By: Pat Garneau, Director of the English Program

On the first day of school, I had the pleasure of doing yard duty in the Casa playground. It was a beautiful summer’s day albeit hot, the flowers were in bloom, there was lush greenery in all the garden beds, particularly the feathery willow bushes, bumblebees were collecting nectar from the flowers and there were children enjoying everything our beautiful space has to offer.

Student riding a tricylePlaying on the playgroundStudent picking flowersChildren were riding tricycles, rolling on the grass, hanging from the monkey bars, sitting under a shady tree, walking in the sand and mud with bare feet, hiding in the shrubs, looking for bugs, picking flowers and hanging out in the “bunkies.” Several boys had devised a game: They lined up the bouncy balls on the grass, then took a running leap and landed on top of them. They found this activity enormously entertaining and repeated it over and over again. There was also a gaggle of children digging in the sand, an activity they never grow tired of. Several boys were pouring water down a wall to create a lake at the bottom. At someone’s suggestion, they then started “dredging” a river draining out of the lake. When one student said it wasn’t deep enough for a large ship to go through, another student said it was for a motorboat and then put a small piece of wood in the lake. This student then told me this was a pretend motorboat. The children poured buckets and buckets of water into this lake and river but eventually the water seeped into the sand and disappeared, which they found very puzzling – A student suggested they pour the water in faster so they tried this with limited success. A different suggested they make an island in the middle of the lake but they couldn’t quite figure out how to do that. A girl wandered around looking for a big bucket. Another fellow had two and she talked him into giving one up peacefully. Someone else pumped water for all those in need. He built up quite a sweat but he didn’t seem to mind.

As I was taking in all of these diverse scenes during yard duty, I realized that when we “imagined” this natural playground, these were all of the things we hoped would happen. It thrilled me to see our “dream” come true.