On Thursday 31 May 2012, there was a great article in the Melbourne Herald Sun about children’s play in school yards. Paul Tranter, an academic in Canberra, studied the change in children’s behaviour when they were given ‘loose materials’ for their play. These materials comprised milk crates, pool noodles and car tyres, amongst other things. He found that children co-operate more, children of different ages play more, and there seemed to be less school yard bullying. The results say a lot about the value of providing materials for creative play rather than relying on stock standard prescriptive play equipment.


The other day, I attended a few talks organised by the Victorian Children’s Nature Connection along. It was really great. One speaker discussed planning, another talked about social interaction in neighbourhoods, a children’s author was there… The adults played with sand, leaves, cones and other materials to create things. This event, as well as its location – The Royal Melbourne Botanic Gardens (which has a great kids area, in case you haven’t visited yet), reminds me how important it is for kids and adults to get outside and do ‘nothing’. It’s amazing how relaxing it can be. This occasion, like other times I have seen people play at the beach, in the bush, by a river…, was punctuated by laughter, silliness, new ideas, and reflection.


Today I had this great landscape architect, Mary Jeavons , come speak to my uni students. Mary has designed a lot of public spaces and school spaces for both the general public and specifically in relation to children. Two of the most importing ideas I got from today is the need for everyone – academics, planning & design professionals, teachers, parents…to demand that we get more than the equipment from a catalogue, and that designers and kids have more say in park design than insurance bodies and risk managers.


About Julie Rudner

With great excitement for the adventure we were about to go on, my mother would shout out, "We're off to see the Wizard"! It didn't matter if we were going to the shops for milk, the museum or a holiday. My mum focused on the joy of the everyday, knowing that if we engaged with life, we would always find something new and positive. With great animation my dad would explain the workings of things and how to pull things apart, put them back together, and if the situation called for it, make something new. My sister and I were taught to evaluate situations, make our decisions, and reap the consequences (both good and bad). We were encouraged to push our boundaries and not let fear prevent us from pursuing our dreams. Importantly, we learned to pick ourselves up, learn from our 'failures', and use our valuable lessons to build our confidence, independence and strength in ourselves.
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