Hello- I’m Hannah, I’ve been a playworker for PATH for two years now and I’ve recently joined the playworkers team working on the Play Times project. I’ve taken on writing the PLOG from April 2010…

17th April

 A warm, sunny day…

A majority of girls were playing out at the first square on the estate today, aged between 5 and 14ish. They asked us for chalk to draw hearts and faces on the ground and got into making flowers and kites when we got the tissue paper out. We played a skipping game with a large piece of elastic and the girls taught us a chant- “England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales….”

At the next square, lots of kids were already out in the sunshine, a group of boys wanted to write their names out in chalk, competing to write biggest. We decided to make a paper ‘chatterbox’ with different games written behind the numbers- this led us into playing hide and seek, building a quick den and making tissue paper flags. A 9 year old girl and 2 boys, one of whom was mid-game attacking us as a killer bumblebee, followed us to the 3rd square we play on. We played ‘Crocodile’a chase game in which you were protected from being ‘it’ when wearing the crocodiles favourite colour. A 6 year old boy, desperate not to have to chase was always safe as apparently he had all the colours on his underpants. Some games of football followed as quite a few children came out towards the end of the session. While leaving we followed by some teenagers with water-bombs testing our reaction, they finally decided just to give us a near-by warning shot and we left the situation dry!

 20th April

This was a quiet session, with many children passing by and stopping just for 5/ 10 minutes of play with chalk and glitter and a few ball games and skipping.

Thursday 22nd April

This was a great session with lots of kids out in the good weather. We played with cornflour, experimenting with how much water was needed and delving hands into it. The kids poured it out on the concrete and swirled it about with sticks. This led to water play- children of all ages got involved in a game of getting water from a nearby tap, filling plastic bags of water and soaking the mud. One boy decided to try and get the girls wet, it became his ‘secret mission’. He would innocently sidle up to the girls, “isn’t it nice weather”, before soaking them, angering his big sister. He tried to involve the playworkers in wetting the girls too, telling them to do it when he signalled with a clicking sound!  Dressing up games happened to, turning into a wedding. One little girl wanted to reverse the genders, making Rainer into the bride and Habiba into the groom. She tried to make them kiss but only got to see a hug. However, the session ended badly with 2 brothers getting angry about the rope being packed away. It became a tug of war with the playworkers wanting to keep the rope, the boys began swearing and spitting and the younger brother had bleeding hands from pulling on the rope. The tug of war was resolved when the boys’ sister came along to stop them but the boys remained angry.

Saturday 24th April

Today was a warm, sunny day, drawing lots of children outside to play.

The session began quietly with 2 girls playing out on the swings, within 20 mins of us arriving about 10 more children came out, mostly boys. We hung fabric between the swing structure and a sturdy tree to create a hammock, it was in high demand but could only take 2 people’s weight at a time. Some wanted to relax in it, others to be swung, gently or not so gently, and the smaller boys wrestled in it or slid from the higher end down.

The next square was the busiest square today, a den was created through coloured fabric strewn across a climbing structure in an attempt to create some shade from the early afternoon sun. A group of 5 girls pounced on the ribbons and thread we had bought, decorating my sun hat, their shoes, creating bracelets and hair decorations. A green ribbon tied in a bow on top of the head became the fashion they all wanted to follow and they took lots of photos on their mobile phones. Wool was tied between the young trees for a high jump contest between chase games. Then the hammock was put up again with a family of young boys and their mum taking it in turns to push. A local resident came out to express concern that the chalk drawings made in our sessions had inspired an incident she had interrupted of youths about to spray paint the climbing structure earlier in the week. However, she was in favour of encouraging play and offered to buy us rolls of paper…

The girls followed us on to the next square to continue playing, this time using the fabric to create dresses for the play workers and decorate the square’s felled tree.  A group of boisterous younger boys came to play fighting games with us, sticks became swords but it became necessary to pause the game to explain these swords needed to be used with care!

 Tuesday 27th April

We had the usual kids passing by on their way home from school today, stopping for a quick play with arts and crafts materials, spreading glue everywhere! Some girls got into making tissue paper flowers. Three brothers came by who stayed to play for a long time. We’d hung fabric out across a pathway and they jumped to touch it which turned into a game of jumping to different heights or doing limbo underneath, eventually becoming a tug of war for the fabric.

 Thursday 29th April

Today’s session began quietly, getting much busier towards the end. Its been a warm, sunny/ cloudy day. A group of girls got into sewing and making dresses to dress up in, helping re-do the play workers’ images. Hopscotch and origami were popular too. Some children came by asking for Rainer and Morgan and talking about previous play sessions in lots of small detail. The boys from the rope fight of last week came back but fortunately they seemed to have forgotten it.