What are the requisites of a child's laboratory? What essentials must we provide if we would deliberately plan an environment to promote the developmental possibilities of play?
These questions are raised with ever-increasing insistence as the true nature of children's play and its educational significance come to be matters of more general knowledge and the selection of play equipment assumes a corresponding importance in the school and at home.
To indicate some fundamental rules for the choice of furnishings and toys and to show a variety of materials illustrating the basis of selection has been our aim in compiling the following brief catalogue. We do not assume the list to be complete, nor has it been the intention to recommend any make or pattern as being indispensable or as having an exclusive right to the field. On the contrary, it is our chief hope that the available number and variety of such materials may be increased to meet a corresponding increase of intelligent demand on the part of parents and teachers for equipment having real dignity and play value.
The materials listed were originally assembled in the Exhibit of Toys and School Equipment shown by the Bureau of Educational Experiments in the Spring and Summer of 1917, and we wish to make acknowledgment, therefore, to the many who contributed to that exhibit and by so doing to the substance of the following pages. Chief among them are Teachers College, The University of Pittsburgh, The Ethical Culture School, The Play School and other experimental schools described in our bulletins, numbers 3, 4 and 5.
The cuts have been chosen for the most part from photographs of the Play School, where conditions fairly approximate those obtainable in the home and thus offer suggestions easily translatable by parents into terms of their own home environment.
While this equipment is especially applicable to the needs of children four, five and six years old, most of it will be found well adapted to the interests of children as old as eight years, and some of it to those of younger children as well.
Bureau of Educational Experiments.
New York City, June, 1918.
Out-of-door Furnishings should be of a kind to encourage creative play as well as to give exercise.
Playground apparatus, therefore, in addition to providing for big muscle development should combine the following requisites:
Intrinsic value as a toy or plaything. "The play of children on it and with it must be spontaneous."
Adaptability to different kinds of play and exercise. "It must appeal to the imagination of the child so strongly that new forms of use must be constantly found by the child himself in using it."
Adaptability to individual or group use. It should lend itself to solitary play or to use by several players at once.
Additional requisites are:
Safety. Its use should be attended by a minimum of danger. Suitable design, proper proportions, sound materials and careful construction are essentials.
Durability. It must be made to withstand hard use and all kinds of weather. To demand a minimum of repair means also to afford a maximum of security.
Dr. E. H. Arnold, "Some Inexpensive Playground Apparatus." Bul. 27, Playground Association of America.
Dr. E. H. Arnold, "Some Inexpensive Playground Apparatus." Bul. 27, Playground Association of America.The city yard equipped to give a maximum of exercise and creative play
THE OUTDOOR LABORATORY
In the country, ready-to-hand resources, trees for climbing, the five-barred fence, the pasture gate, the stone wall, the wood-pile, Mother Earth to dig in, furnish ideal equipment for the muscle development of little people and of their own nature afford the essential requisites for creative and dramatic play. To their surpassing fitness for "laboratory" purposes each new generation bears testimony. If the furnishings of a deliberately planned environment are to compare with them at all they must lend themselves to the same freedom of treatment.
The apparatus shown here was made by a local carpenter, and could easily be constructed by high school pupils with the assistance of the manual training teacher.
The ground has been covered With a layer of fine screened gravel, a particularly satisfactory treatment for very little children, as it is relatively clean and dries quickly after rain. It does not lend itself to the requirements of organized games, however, and so will not answer for children who have reached that stage of play development.
A number of building bricks, wooden boxes of various sizes, pieces of board and such "odd lumber" with a few tools and out-of-door toys complete the yard's equipment.
THE SEE SAW
Board--Straight grain lumber, 1-1/8" x 9" x 12'-0".
Two cleats 1¼" x 9" bolted to the under side of the board to act as a socket on the hip of the horse.
Horse--Height 25". Length 22½;". Spread of feet at ground 20". Legs built of 2" x 3" material. Hip of 2" x 3" material. Brace under hip of 7/8" material.
Note--All figures given are for outside measurements. Apparatus except see-saw board and sliding board should he painted, especially those parts which are to be put into the ground....