Open Ended Resources

Why is my child playing with pallets and tyres?!

Think back to when you were a child, fond memories of spending Saturday nights watching Gladiators, making things out of cereal boxes because Blue Peter made it look easy or maybe even being home before the streetlights turned on in the evening. Whatever your age, you definitely would have moaned at some point ‘I’m bored, there’s nothing to play with’ and you would have heard the response, “go out and play, use your imagination!” What did you play with? Maybe you made a den out of a few garden chairs and sneaked a towel from the washing line, or you went searching for stones to build a fairy garden? You stacked up logs and rocks in the garden and made mud pies with grass on top. You didn’t have half of the plastic toys our children have today, and actually, your imaginations and creativity were far better off because of it.

The early years foundation stage refers to construction in many of its 7 areas including physical, mathematics and expressive arts and design. A construction area allows children to play, explore, actively learn, create and critically think all things which are crucial to a child’s learning and achieving.

Construction involves anything a child can build, balance and create from and does not have to have a set goal in mind. Open ended resources such as a pallets, tyres and cable reel allow a wealth of construction to happen with children creating and changing their minds as they add or take away pieces to their masterpieces.

Adventure play, or junk play as it was first known, arrived in English cities after the second world war, when many children constructed their own play spaces in bomb sites, making swings and dens with broken beams and shattered doors: the space made use of junk materials and invited children to use their imaginations.

The adaptability of junk, and the fact it can be used for different purposes and in different ways, helps support infinite process opportunities. The non-directive nature of junk means what is needed to make a robot one day, may be the exact same thing used to make a space station the next.

Settings that provide junk, provide variability, flexibility and adaptability. When children can engage with environments and resources like this in their play, they can express their creativity, innovation and cognitive ability. Playing with large junk has also shown improvements in behaviour and reduction of accidents and incidents as children are more likely to exercise more choice, independence and problem solving.

Doesn’t look safe or looks too messy? All the resources we offer the children have been risk assessed to avoid injuries such as touching sharp objects, however it’s really important that children have access to appropriate risks to develop age-appropriate strength, coordination, and good body awareness. Without an efficient amount of exposure to risk taking, children can become more accident prone due to poor spatial awareness.

The children don’t think it’s too messy, they can’t believe their luck when we allow them to stretch their creative minds and make a car from a pallet and a few tyres!