As part of our Social Value programme, CRL recently approached Chandag Infants School, where the grand-daughter of one of our staff is a pupil, to offer our skills, expertise, materials and equipment. After a few discussions it became obvious that they were very keen for us to completely clean and repair an area called ‘Small World’ which had become unsafe for the children to use.
‘Small World’ play areas are very valuable in providing early years children with a sensory, tactile and imaginative play experience which provides them with an opportunity to explore new materials, build language, practice social skills, act out scenarios from real life and gain an understanding of the world. It is child-led and self-directed play. It is especially important for children who require extra help with emotional development.
Following discussions with one of the teachers, the Chandag's request was for a natural, volcanic, mountainous landscape to feature areas of sand, loose stones, embedded stones, sparkly stones, fossil and fern imprints and toy dinosaur footprints, feature roads and a couple of pipe tunnels. We were requested to keep the colour scheme earthy and neutral while highlighting the roads by painting black and the sides white.
We began by removing all loose rocks, stones, logs and sand then pressure-washed the ‘road’ surfaces and surrounding wall and cut back overgrown shrubbery. The pipe tunnels were already intact. Mortar was used to repairs the roads, side walls and surrounding wall and to cover a volcano mould. A variety of areas were filled with mortar and then stones of different sizes and shapes embedded and a couple of flat areas made for the imprint of ferns, ammonite fossils, shells, toy dinosaur footprints and toy lizards. The volcano and some very large and interestingly shaped stones and fossils were embedded in the central area, with some large stones positioned to give a tunnel effect for added play interest.
Some small ‘pocket’ areas were filled with loose stones in a variety of colours and some areas had small sparkly stones embedded in. One complete end was lined with black canvas and filled with loose play sand supplied by the school. Large stones surrounding this sanded area which had become loose were removed, cleaned and re-set.
All roads were painted black and the sides white, providing good definition. Raised areas around the pockets of stones were painted white. A selection of small toy cars and diggers were purchased by CRL for the school children.
The school were delighted with the finished result: ‘It looks fantastic and the staff are really pleased with the area’.
CRL were then invited to attend a special assembly to reveal the repaired play area to the children at which we took the opportunity to present them with toy cars and diggers to play with in the 'Small World' area.