9th September ‘10

There was some tension on the session today between 2 girls and another girl and her brother, the 2 girls seemed to be bullying the other one but it wasn’t quite clear what was going on. The playworkers tried to distract the upset girl getting her involved in a game using wool and acting out martial arts moves with voicing sounds. Another girl constantly asked to be pushed on the swing, asking again and again as if each time was the first time and she hadn’t had a turn in ages although in fact she’d only just finished the last one!

11th September ‘10

The first square was especially lively today, most of the kids played together in a long game of kings and queens and servants! This theme of royalty has appeared in many of our games this summer, I’d wondered if we as playworkers were influencing it but today it was definitely initiated by the kids. It seems to come from one of our play props- a red velvet blanket with Dalmatian-style black and white trimming round it that looks like a royal cloak!

Some girls made a mask for Rainer- adapting a tiger mask we already had by drawing on top, they spent a long time on making it look very scary! At the end of the session we heard lots of music and ran round the corner with the children to see a Sikh wedding party coming out of the temple behind the square with people dancing out onto the streets.

The next square was busy too, with a big mix of children of different ages. Some children came who we hadn’t seen in a couple of months. We had a big game wrapping people in fabric and taping it! Last week we had left some green net behind for hammock-making and a boy told us they had played with it for three days afterwards until it went missing. We’re going to get some more we can leave with them.

14th September ‘10

It rained a lot today and the session was quiet. There were a few kids there at the beginning, then none for a while but the sessions picked up towards the end. We played races with one girl for a long time, she was very definite about having things done in her own way. She wanted to do a lot of unrealistic things, e.g., building a tree house in a tree that it wasn’t possible to climb but it seemed like the process of realising that it wasn’t possible for this to be done was important for her. Some boys came by who called her names but she stood up for herself and gave it back to them.

16th September ‘10

Today’s session was very busy, 10 kids were already waiting for us to arrive with the hammock, they wanted us to put it up for them but we got them to work out how to do it for themselves. They decorated it with some gold fabric to make it look different from in other weeks. One boy wanted to show us a new dance routine he had learnt, then his friends joined in and they decided to dance up on the garage roof. The sun was coming down behind them as they danced and it looked fantastic.

Two brothers had a long game with a Diablo, we didn’t have the proper string for it but they balanced it on a piece of string of their own and carried it around together, balancing it carefully between them. One of the regular girls who normally clings to Rainer was much better with interacting with the other playworkers and playing with other children today.

18th September ‘10

Today was busy and fun, the sunny, crisp early Autumn weather drawing lots of kids out to play. Our regular kids were waiting for us to arrive and lots more came out through the session. As usual, one boy wanted to build the hammock and declare it his own but he needed our help today- having broken his arm, he had it put in plaster. Later on he got annoyed with other people wanting to share the hammock and used his plaster cast for hitting people. It hurt. It’s difficult to define boundaries with him, he’s cheeky and we have a lot of fun playing with him but sometimes he tips across a line into going too far, kicking too hard or trying to get into our bags. He squashed Habiba’s tuna sandwich today beyond the point where it could be eaten, we’ve found he only really listens to being asked to stop by male playworkers. Generally it was a great session though, with lots of chaotic running about, war games, throwing the material and rolling down the bank. Some quieter games also talk place around the edge, some girls singing songs from the latest Disney film and chalking their names or just mixing colours on the ground.

The second square was fairly quiet but 2 boys ran out as soon as we got there asking for hammock materials. It was tricky to make a hammock here, the square doesn’t lend itself easily to it with no two suitable things to tie fabric securely to that are close enough together. With the boys, we joined a lot of fabric together and found a place in the corner where it could kind of work- it sagged low to the ground and couldn’t swing far without crashing into the wall but the boys were very happy with it! There was a reasonable amount of rubbish in the square today that had over-flowed from the bins, the bins don’t seem quite adequate for the amount of waste the homes there generate and parents sometimes call down to their kids not to sit on the ground because its dirty, it affects the play.

The last square was happy and chaotic, with lots of children joining us to play chase games, build hammocks and see how high they could push us on the basket swing before we started shouting to stop! Mostly girls were playing out here, a group of younger girls had fun chasing Rainer and burying him in the fabric and the hammock and chalks were popular again.

26th September ‘10

Today felt really Autumnal- bright sun but suddenly much colder. The first square was quieter than in recent weeks, three of our regular kids were there waiting for us and a few more joined us later in the session. They were excited by our new hammock material- a large piece of royal blue builders net. We collected conkers, berries and fallen leaves with one of the girls who arranged them into patterns on the bench and tied bunches of leaves together with ribbons. I had a long game of Cats Cradle with another girl, we’d taught it to her a couple of weeks ago and she’d been playing at home and invented some of her own intricate new moves.

We took the hammock on to the next play space and hung it between a huge tree and a fence. Two brothers played in it for ages, wanting to be covered in fabric so they could be warm and hide in it. Another boy and his sister wanted to play a zombie game, jumping up out of the hammock to scare us then chase us and the other kids until everyone was made a zombie! As more kids came out to play, they squabbled over who could be in the hammock when and for how long. We’d decided to leave the hammock with them for the week as the square has so little to play with, next week we’ll see if we can discover what has happened with it. One boy said he would be in charge of it and take it to his house at night so it didn’t get nicked, he promised he’d bring it out for any other kids that wanted to play with it.

The final square was very busy, lots of kids were out playing already and a game of cops and robbers was going on between a group of about 8 children. Our regular kids wanted to swing with us and chat and the younger children played a game of chalking out tunnels across the square and running along them as trains or in war games, shooting at each other with toy guns or imagined weapons.