PLOG- April- May 2011

14TH April

Today we took the kids from this estate on an Easter holiday trip to Glamis Adventure Playground. They had a great time playing on the structures and swings, sitting by the fire and playing chase over the draw bridge. Some of the kids help break up the fire wood, learning to use the heavy sledge hammer effectively. There was some tension between 3 of our boys of 3 of Glamis’ regular boys- lots of insults about each other’s postcodes were exchanged and the postcodes scribbled within the wooden tree house. It blew over after they were kept apart a short while. The girls we took were keen to use the playground’s hair and beauty product collection and sat painting their nails and doing henna designs on each other. Everyone had a great time and sat on the bus back chatting about the things they wanted to do there next time they went.

16th April

It was a sunny session but quite quiet at the 1st square today. Inga made Easter baskets and chocolate boxes with some of the girls. Games of chase and badminton went on too. The 2nd square followed on with the arts and crafts. The last square was busiest with lots of kids passing through and stopping to play a while with the sports equipment we’d brought, as well as our regulars who mostly wanted to chat and tell jokes today.

19th April

Its been sunny and hot today and the session was very relaxed. It was quite quiet initially as the youth centre was running an Easter holiday play scheme but after a while the kids came out from there and came to join us, we sat in the shade chatting and drawing with chalk and doing a few bits of arts and crafts, such as drawing on fabric. Mostly the children got on with their own play, riding bikes, chucking some water bombs around and playing in small groups.

21st April

The session began quietly today, it was really warm weather and we sat and decorated some plastic balls as Easter eggs, one girl got really into it and brought out more paints from home. We had a water fight but quite a chilled out one! The kids here especially love the hammocks, asking for them week after week and they want to stay in them for ages once they get in! We thought one boy had gone home when we didn’t see or hear him for about 30 minutes but he turned out to be napping in the hammock having covered himself in fabric!

23rd April 2011

Its been a hot day making it difficult to carry out the Easter egg hunts we planned without all the chocolate melting! Just 4 kids came to the first session, it was unusually quiet, perhaps because people had other plans for the Easter weekend, all the more chocolate eggs for the 4 who came!

The 2nd square was busy however, about 10 kids came out, mostly girls, and we had a fantastic session. The majority of the session was one long water fight with our new water pistols, and since we didn’t have quite enough of them we improvised some more from some squirt top juice bottles we found and rinsed out! A small girl of about 3 who we hadn’t met before came out with her Grandmother. Her grandma is a tiny but severe looking elderly lady, dressed in full Muslim dress, who stood in the middle of the water-fight, looking on with a serious face. None of the children dared squirt her and it didn’t occur to me to offer her a water pistol. Fifteen minutes into the play however she seized her granddaughter’s pistol and started running about squirting everyone, talking to me in Bengali as she squirted me in the face and chest, “Ah, so you’re hot here… and here” ! (Habiba translated for me). It was a hilarious sight and suddenly all the kids were squirting her. After everyone got tired from running in the sun we sat and drew with the chalks, squirting the chalk with the pistols so the colours ran into a thick paste of rainbow shades. The kids squelched their hands in the paste and ran to the wall to make hand prints, one girl used her hand printing to make a flower pattern which looked fantastic.

The 3rd square was busy too, we played with the pistols again but as this square has no tap the play was slowed by the children having to go home to refuel! One 5 year old boy got aggressive when he got squirted back by the boy he squirted but I explained he could only play if he was happy to get a bit wet too and that the sun would soon dry it. I showed him how my clothes had dired from where he had squirted me and by the end he was playing well and even enjoying being squirted too.

26th April

It was a busy play session today, lots of kids got on with their own games while others played chase games with the playworkers. We showed the kids how to make whistles from paper which they got really into. One boy asked Inga to teach him how to knit and picked it up incredibly quickly, getting into doing several rows!

28th April

Its been warm again and we had a long water fight on the session with the water pistols, as well as some games of badminton, football and hopscotch. It felt quite a patchy session with children staying a short while then leaving as others arrived. The people living here were preparing for a street party to celebrate the royal wedding tomorrow and the kids chatted about it excitedly and wanted to hear what we were doing for it too. We met a few new children today which was great, their parents came out to ask about what we did and seemed keen on the idea of the kids playing outside more.

30th April

Its been warm weather and a fairly busy session. At the first square we played with the parachute and some dressing up games. The 2nd square had lots of chase games as usual but also some arts and crafts, Inga showed some children how to make origami boats. Meanwhile, some other decided to tie Rainer to the tree with lots of string! They made a good job of it and he remained tied there till he was rescued by the other playworkers at packing up time!

The final square was busy, it’s got increasingly busy each week here lately. A new family came along and one boy came with the biggest water gun ever, attached to water tank worn as a rucksack which he had great fun wetting everyone with. The playworkers and other children made themselves shields from fabric! Rainer had a long game in which the kids told him he was an animal which they were going to catch- they played chase, capture, escape and re-capture in happy cycles.

3rd May

The beginning of today’s session was especially busy with lots of kids stopping by on their way home from school. We covered the round table with plastic and did lots of painting on it. There were swing games and chasing going on too. We also did lots of jewellery making with string and beads and some of the mums got into this too! One mum cheekily made a very long necklace as a means of being able to take the beads home with her.

5th May

Today was a warm weather, chilled out session. All the kids wanted their own hammocks and luckily we had a lot of fabric and net with us today! The kids lay in them for ages, swinging themselves or getting in with friends to chat! Two new girls, who were  visiting their Nan on the estate, came out to play and wanted to draw at first but some got drawn into the hammock games. One girl decided to make a paper chatterbox with challenges for people to do, from touching their nose with their tongue to seeing how high they could jump.

Over on the other square it was quieter with just a few smaller children playing out. A 5 year old boy decided to make the small tent his take- away shop and spent a long time playing this, getting the other children and playworkers to be his customers.

7th May 2011

About 10 children, mostly girls, joined us at the 1st square today. It’s been a humid, hot day and the session was relaxed, lots of sitting doing crafts, chatting and swinging in the hammock. We had a long game of ‘Wink murder’ sat on the round table.

About 6 of our regular girls joined us at the next square. We kept mostly to one end of the square however as the other side was full of litter bags that hadn’t been collected and smelt too bad for anyone to want to go near. This problem crops up regularly here and in windy weather becomes a really ugly sight. The session turned into one long, fun game of chase. One corner of the square was used as home and the play got very physical and boisterous with everyone attempting to push each other out of the home towards the person who was ‘it’! It was a good chance for the girls to test their strength against each other and us, and their bargaining skills with each other for non-sabotage!

When we arrived at the last square there were a few children out playing, some young children and mums and a couple of men drinking heavily. The men were interacting with 2 girls of about 11 who the girls told me they knew but I heard one of the men teasing the girls in a way she didn’t seem fully comfortable dealing with although I think he thought it was playful. I stayed nearby to keep an eye and the girls soon decided to leave. It was an uncomfortable session for us, about 6 more men came out to drink and smoke joints in the centre of the square and the play got shifted around it, it wasn’t hostile exactly but it felt strained between the groups with the mothers anxious to keep their smaller children away from the men. The kids drew and made masks, played on the swings and got on with playing as usual.

Plog- May ‘11

 

10th May ‘11

Today’s session was really busy with children and their parents stopping by for a while on their way home from school. Some new children came and joined in too. Rainer tied a piece of blue net between the tree and the fence and the kids had a great time sliding down it. They got a few friction burns and scrapes from it but loved it and kept coming back for more turns.

 

11th May ‘11

About 20 kids came along this afternoon. One parent brought a out an inflatable paddling pool for the kids and they pretended it was a cauldron and that they were mixing spells. They also used the water from it to water all the plants and herbs that their parents were growing in planter boxes in the square. A lot of kids played independently here today and we interacted mostly with the youngest children while the older ones got on with their own games of chase and football.

 

12th May ‘11

Today’s session was fairly quiet with just our regular kids but they stayed for the whole session. By popular request, we made the hammocks again as the kids wanted to sit in them and chat and play with their phones. One 9 year old boy’s behaviour was particularly difficult today with lots of sexualised comments and gesturing towards the girls.

 

14th May ‘11

We arrived at the first square today to very grey skies and decided to build a rain shelter with a group of about 6 of our regular kids and a new brother and sister who came by. They found it hard to join in with the others at first as they’re a really established group of friends but concentrating on the den building task seemed to help them fit in. We tied the parachute between the tree and the slide and tried to pull out the other sides and attach them to the ground with sticks. The ground was hard making this impossible. Luckily, a couple of men were doing some repairs to a nearby stairwell and offered to let us borrow their hammer for a while so the kids got to have a go at working with the tool. They made a good den and took the fabric inside to sit on and use as blankets. The rain never came. However the den got tested in the form of one of our regular boys turning up on a destructive bent and pulling up the improvised tent pegs. The girls got angry and chased after him but he got away laughing.

 

At the next square we were joined by about 6 of our regular girls and played chase games, stopping to do some crafts when we got tired of running. Suddenly the rain shower we’d been waiting for at the last square and then forgotten about came, short but very heavy. We huddled together under a heap of fabric and umbrellas till it stopped.

 

The sun was out when we got to the last square and the session got busy with swing games, drawing, chase, origami and animal impressions.

 

19th May ‘11

Today’s session was fairly quiet at both squares. We made hammocks again but there was a lot of squabbling amongst the kids about who could get in, who was allowed with whom and how long for. One boy was getting pushed out by the other kids so I distracted him into a dare game, flipping a coin to see who got the dare. I wasn’t sure if it was a good idea to start this game as the boy can be one of the more challenging ones but his dares were quite sweet, making me run and dance in the middle of the square, or do star jumps (nothing offensive!) and he did his own dares with good humour, posing in the middle of the square and singing to the other play workers.

 

20th May ‘11

Today’s session was very quiet, it was a warm, pleasant day but not so many children came out as usual. The beginning was busiest. A group of 4 of our regulars came and wanted the hammock put up for them. We tried to encourage them to do it themselves first but they were really weren’t prepared even to pick it up and try. They got progressively ruder and more demanding before taking the hammock net to go and hide it round the corner. However, they came back later and were persuaded to go and get it and they did get some time in a hammock that another girl had made since they left. We also played some badminton and drew with the chalks. The second square was quiet on this session too with just a couple of the children under 5 coming out to play, as well as the older group of teenagers who hang out here too.

 

22nd May ‘11

Today’s session was warm and relaxed. The kids played their usual, favourite games but the session was mostly about preparing for next week’s party. The kids chatted about their favourite foods and what kind of games they’d like. They spent a long time designing and making posters which we taped to the walls around the square and also at the other squares we work from so these kids could come along too. One boy decided to destroy these to annoy us (succeeding more than he knew)! A few survived to advertise the party and the regular girls, who were particularly involved in the planning said they’d let as many people know as possible!

 

27th May ‘11

It’s been a difficult session today. We arrived at the estate in a thunder storm. It cleared after 15 minutes and we discovered the youth club were using the inside space today as they’d had to swap days this week, so we gathered some stuff and went outside. We met 4 of our regulars and had a short game of badminton before it started to pour with rain again. We sheltered under the stairs, using umbrellas as walls. One of the younger boys wanted to stay out with us but was only wearing a t-shirt so Habiba ran him home under her umbrella to get a coat and they came back to chat and chalk. However the rain didn’t clear up and continued to pour down heavily, turning the square into one big puddle that seeped into everyone’s trainers. A couple of mums started to shout at us for not running the session from inside and we went to find out if we could share the space with the youth club which we did end up doing, but amid a lot of complaints from the mums that the older kids shouldn’t be there as it wasn’t their night. They were worried about the older kids starting trouble with the younger ones, they appeared to have been drinking and were especially aggravated. The session was ok though we were overcrowded, there was no trouble between the kids, the younger ones happy to watch the older ones play Pool and we got some clay and board games out. The rain eventually stopped as we were packing up to go!

 

29th May ‘11

Today was the day of the party we’ve been organising at the first of the squares we work at on Saturdays. Our regular kids were excited and waiting for us when we arrived, they helped us lay out the food on picnic blankets and decorate the square. We hung bunting between the trees, blew up balloons and drew coloured chalk arrows to the picnic from the edges of the square with invitations to ‘join our play party’. One girl did some creative decorations on the poles supporting the trees with zigzags of coloured tape.

 

A few new kids came out when they saw the decorations and stayed for some food and games. We picnicked on baguettes, crisps, carrot and cucumber dips, pancakes and lemonade, and some delicious onion bargees one of the girl’s mums had made for us. After, we started the games- the kids had requested Pass the Parcel and a piñata.  The piñata created the most excitement, I’d made it a little stronger than I intended and it needed a good 15minutes of bashing with a plastic tennis bat. We strung it up from the tree and the kids took it in turns to hit it, shouting “DIE, DIE, DIE”! Eventually it fell off its hook, one boy dived on it then ran across the square trying to rip the layers off, a big group laughing and chasing him. They tackled it from him till it got ripped open- but only sweet wrappers and sugar dust fell out, the sweets had been pulverised! Luckily, the kids found this funny and were proud of it rather than disappointed! (Next time I’m using softer, gummy sweets though). We stayed for an extended sessions, we did some jewellery making, it was 80 % girls who stayed to the party and a groups of children and their mums came by from the others squares we work at and joined us. We also played in the hammock and chase games. It was a grey, windy day and the rain brought a natural end to the session but we were really pleased with how it went.

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