19 Nov
Let’s Tear Down the Playground Walls
Posted by Elizabeth Moreno

Our new “Teacher Training Manual” is out today. Download the manual here.

When we travel to a new site to work with a school help them build their own playground, there’s nothing that inspires us more than talking to the teachers. Teaching is one of the toughest professions out there. But working as a teacher in much of the developing world is a job worthy of revere.

Some of these educators have had little access to quality training or teacher mentoring, are working with outdated curriculums in overcrowded schools with few resources. And they’re often underpaid for their work. We’ve watched teachers battle to maintain control over classrooms packed with 100+ squirming kids and sacrifice precious personal hours to grade mounting piles of papers and exams. Day after day after day. The sheer tenacity of these individuals is remarkable.

Teacher and her class in South Africa | Photo Courtesy of UNESCO/ Eva-Lotta Jansson

Teacher and her class in South Africa | Photo Courtesy of UNESCO/ Eva-Lotta Jansson

It is often the teachers who lead the charge to get a playground built at their school. They know that six hours of rote-learning isn’t a quality education and they see the strain and exhaustion their students experience without quality access to play.

We’ve done followup research on our playground builds and found teachers frequently report the addition of a playground makes their job easier. When students have a quality space for stimulating, active play during their break times, they’re less fidgety and disruptive in class. This takes much of the disciplinary load off teachers, which frees their energy and time to focus on quality teaching. Simply adding a playground to a school can make a world of difference in a child’s experience of education and a teacher’s capacity. But it’s not enough.


All over the world, there is an invisible cultural wall between the classroom and the playground. Socialized through our own education or societal messages, we often come to believe that while play may be important to a child’s life, play happened outside on the playground while learning happened inside the classroom.

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This common attitude is a blatant misconception. Heaps and heaps of research shows just the opposite. For young children, play is learning, and learning happens best through play. That’s why today we’re thrilled to release our latest manual: a guide to help teachers understand the importance of play and open their eyes to the myriad of ways young children learn through play. Download Playground Ideas’ “Teacher Training” manual here.

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Our “Teacher Training Manual” covers a basic introduction to the importance of play for healthy child development. Specifically focused on the challenges students and teachers in the developing world face, the manual provides encouragement for teachers and childcare workers to use the resources and play traditions within their own culture to support play both inside and outside the classroom.


Beautiful illustrations break down complex research and nuanced play theory to provide an overview of the science of play and a guide to becoming a play advocate. Our hope is that through this manual teachers will be better equipped to recognize a variety of types of play and understand and support children’s biological drive to play. They’ll gain an awareness of common barriers to play children around the world face and an understanding of the difference between teaching pedagogies that rely on rote based learning vs. play based learning.

It’s teachers who have the power to tear down the playground walls – to let play seep into classrooms and enliven the education experience for their students. With awareness and knowledge of the power of play, teachers are perhaps the world’s most valuable advocates to uphold children’s right to play.

You can download Playground Ideas’ “Teacher Training” manual here. As always, if you use this resource in your school or organization we’d love to hear your feedback. Drop us a line at info(at)

Let’s Tear Down the Playground Walls