Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Operation Playground - Free resources to stimulate active learning

Have your pupils create their own outdoor playground games with this series of free lesson plans from Canopies UK, all designed to encourage active learning and creative thinking skills. Then enter your children's best game into Canopies UK's national competition and stand to win a bespoke outdoor canopy for your school worth up to £10,000!

Research has shown that children respond better in the classroom when they are able to enjoy short bursts of exercise or take part in lessons that encourage active learning.

Active learning allows kids to think for themselves, work individually or in teams, engaging and challenging them to think about different situations enriching their learning. It can come in many varied ways, from collaborative activities to setting them tasks to do. It could even be just as simple as taking them away from the normal environment of the classroom and getting them moving around. This can provide many benefits for them, such as building key everyday skills like communication and teamwork, as well as helping to reinforce key messages or learning aims.

In an effort to encourage more active learning to be incorporated into lessons at a Key Stage 2 level, Darwen-based Canopies UK has launched an exciting new initiative - Operation Playground.

What is Operation Playground?

Operation Playground looks to combine both exercising with learning through five different activities, as well as spending more time outside, all within the realms of the national curriculum.

The project sees kids working together to come up with their own outdoor playground game, either based on a game that is played already, or one that is completely new. The only rules are that games must be:
  • safe to play
  • inclusive to all pupils
  • able to be played outdoors.
Youngsters often have vivid imaginations and so the concept allows them to put that to good use by thinking about how they can not only create games but how they can improve games they play already.

To facilitate this, five lesson plans with associated activities have been written for teachers or PE co-ordinators to use. All lesson plans have been tied to key subject areas and objectives that children are expected to learn as part of the curriculum this year. This not only balances the fun element in the classroom but also ensures that there is a clear, educational reason for taking part.

What are the benefits?

The initiative aims to deliver an accessible class project that gets pupils active and outside. From Physical Education to ICT, Operation Playground can be used in numerous different ways to increase knowledge and build many every day skills that are now fundamental growing up.

Communication is a major factor in the initiative not only verbally but also from a written perspective. Pupils not only contribute significantly in responding to questions asked by teachers but also by talking to their peers, valuing the contributions of each other. 

The lessons ask children to input throughout to build and develop their ideas in a positive manner. It tests their ability to listen carefully to instructions, as well as think about how instructions can be improved.

It is tailored to deliver a fun and enjoyable lesson that lets the pupils do the work and makes decisions themselves.

They are then expected to use their ideas to play the games and think about them further. By playing games, it encourages students to take part in physical activity, while also making them think about how they can incorporate movement and actions.

Schools who have already participated in the project, along with those currently in the process of creating their entry ahead of the closing date of 28th November, have expressed how enjoyable the activity was and currently is for their pupils.

Extra perks

Image: Canopies UK
Aside from the classroom benefit, each school that takes part and submits their best game entry created by the children will receive a certificate for their classroom for taking part. This will hopefully provide a sense of pride for those pupils whose game has been selected as the winning entry.

On top of this, those submissions will then be judged by a panel to win an outdoor play canopy for their school worth £10,000, which includes design, installation and manufacturing from Canopies UK. 

With this being an initiative the whole school can participate in, it can not only help to develop a friendly competitiveness within classes as they look to get the best entry. But it can also lead to healthy rivalry between schools as each one looks to be officially named the best game created.

This all sounds fun – how do I take part?

Schools wanting to take part can visit the Operation Playground page at the following link:

On this page, teachers can download the full teaching pack, which contains all the lesson plans and activities, as well as going into more detail on how to complete the entry.

There is also a map where you can see the schools in your local area that have already downloaded the pack and are taking part in the initiative.

Terms and conditions for entry are included in the teaching pack and the closing date for entries is the 28th November up to and including 11:59pm. 

For more information or to register to join (and download those free lesson plans!), visit:

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