Title

Trash or treasure: Using recycled household and garden items in primary school playgrounds to encourage active, social and engaged play

Document Type

Conference publication

Publication details

Telford, A, Hyndman, B, Benson, A & Finch, C 2015, 'Trash or treasure: Using recycled household and garden items in primary school playgrounds to encourage active, social and engaged play', International Society of Behavioral Nurtition and Physical Activity (ISBNPA) 2011 Annual Meeting, Melbourne, Vic.,15-18 June.

Abstract available on Open Access

Abstract

Purpose

To evaluate the feasibility, acceptability and potential efficacy of a school-based playground intervention on children’s well-being, social interactions, enjoyment of play and physical activity during lunch periods at school.

Methods

Over 13 weeks moveable recycled household and garden items (e.g. tyre tubes, tarps, rope, noodles, buckets, milk crates) were made available during all play periods at one primary school. This wholeschool intervention program included all staff and 135 children within years prep to six. Children were not provided with any instruction about how to use the household items. During the process evaluation, teachers (n=9) participated in 50 minute focus groups which examined their perceptions of the program within the context of a social ecological framework considering intrapersonal, interpersonal, organisational and environmental factors.

Results

Themes emerging from the focus groups suggested play within the playground was more active (exhibiting more lifting, carrying & jumping) displayed greater co-operation and engaged higher order thinking skills, negotiation and problem-solving behaviour among students. In addition, teachers discussed potential long-term changes to their school policy and physical environment within this forum. According to teachers children’s interest in the intervention was sustained over a nine month period well beyond the initial intervention delivery period of 13 weeks.

Conclusion

Teachers perceptions were that this inexpensive and feasible intervention program increased active, cooperative and cognitive play. This suggests that, with limited funds, the introduction of household and recycled items to a school playground has the potential to improve the policy, social and physical environments designed to promote children’s active and engaged play.