One site we’ve been playworking for some months has recently enjoyed a rush of new visitors.  Some of these new children played in different ways to the long-standing attendants, some of whom felt rules were in order.  We did not encourage or discourage this process, just supplied pens and paper when asked and watched as they worked out the social perameters themselves and glued them onto the wall.

The rules are as follows:

  1. Don’t be rude
  2. Don’t eat all the food
  3. Don’t chuck things at the grown-up
  4. Don’t kill the ants
  5. Don’t cut the grown-ups hair
  6. Don’t poke the tongue

We found it interesting that these rules were exclusively written as ‘don’ts’, while adults would perhaps framed things in a friendlier-sounding manner.  However, a list such as this provides far more subtle freedoms, as anything that is not prohibited is implicitly allowed.

Chelsea Adventure Playground, which Penny ran for a number of years, developed its own Infinite Rule which has been adopted for roll-out training by groups such as KaBOOM in America.  It is simple, elegant and inclusive.  It is simply:

‘Have the best time you can while you are here and try not to hurt yourself or anyone else.”

What rules, or other social strategies for maintaining play’s balance on the edge of the wave, have you witnessed or developed?