If this is your first view of our website, we want to welcome your interest, and try to give an introduction to what the Bogin Playscape Project is trying to accomplish. Other pages on the site give more detailed background on who we are and what we’re doing. We welcome your feedback regarding how the site presents this information. We are learning as we go!!
The project began in September 2011 with the start of a seminar with a small group of students from Smith College and Springfield College. Our initial goals were varied, and included ;
• Exploring the “state of play” among pre-school children, both locally and more globally
• How has the world of opportunities for active play for young children changed in recent years? What are the factors influencing those changes?
• How does the opportunity for active play and movement influence overall development and readiness of pre-school children to learn and succeed?
• What kinds of simple games and activities can be used with pre-school children to encourage and develop these crucial foundation motor skills ?
As we move forward, The Bogin Playscape Project intends to develop safe, simple, inexpensive and reproducible play equipment designs that can be used in existing pre-school settings. We are focusing on designs for indoor play areas in order to offer children more opportunities to move each day, regardless of the weather or any other factors that keep children indoors. While outdoor play is crucial, and should be part of every day routines, there is also a need for play equipment that can be used indoors, and allows children to move and explore beyond the limited outdoor playtimes provided each day. Rather than designing large indoor playgrounds, we hope to develop a more modular system, with smaller pieces that can be combined in different ways to fit into existing spaces that may not have room for an indoor playground. Good design takes time, and we need to insure all designs are safe and effective before we begin to share them.
After spending last year teaching a seminar for students from Smith College and Springfield College to begin the Playscape Project, my focus has shifted. This past summer and early fall has given me time to design and build for children for the first time in many years. The grant we received last June from the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts has allowed me to focus on new ideas and designs that have been percolating for more than 30 years since I last tried building a play structure for children. It has been challenging to get my “building brain” back in gear, and try to work on a modular design that is safe and fun and relatively low-cost. There is some video of the “playcube” design, which is still to be completed and revised before it gets out in the world early next year. My hope is to devise an indoor “mini- playscape” (less than 4’ X 4’ of floor space) that could be set up with enough fun activities to keep a whole classroom of pre-schoolers moving and exploring at once. I’m having fun, and it feels like this is the kind of project that can be improved and refined over time; I’m looking for ideas and input from others as well, so please let me know what you think!!
Video of Play Cube Design:
I met with staff from the REACH early intervention program last week at their new site in North Amherst. They have moved recently into a wonderful new space in a renovated old elementary school building, where they will have play groups with the babies and toddlers. The school has the kind of high ceilings and huge windows that remind me of the school building where I built my first indoor playground back in the 1970’s. I met with the staff to discuss plans for building some play equipment for their new site, and also to drop off two smaller pieces for them to try out. The ball ramp and “bottle baby” truck were designed with pre-school kids in mind, but should also be fun for the younger children. I have been looking for a place to try out these small designs, and my hope is to put plans for them up on the site once we get feedback that the designs are working as I intended.
The “Bottle Baby” Truck lets kids lift and carry around bottles, and push and pull the truck around
The ball ramp lets kids set up a long ramp for rolling balls or small cars
Jameson Cunneen pulling a bottle baby truck
This new direction in building for an early intervention program was inspired by a generous grant received from Steven Salky and Gail Ifshin. They have been enjoying their first grandson, Jameson, born last December, and so the connection to building for infants and toddlers just seemed like a perfect way to move forward with the Playscape Project right now. I am also happy to be able to work with a group of wonderful and experienced early intervention therapists and educators on this project, including Arlene Spooner. My own background is much stronger with pre-school age kids, but I am certain I can get great feedback from these seasoned and wise early intervention staff to help with the design process.
These are some photos of the “baby cube”, designed for the REACH Early Intervention program, for use with the toddler play groups. It features a platform swing, slide, “bottle baby” ramp and truck, and places to climb, as well as some fine motor block games with wood blocks. Once finished, it will be set up for extended trial to see how it works…
We finally got a real live 20 month old to try out the baby cube. Thanks to Jameson Cunneen who generously showed us how to play! And special thanks to his parents, Chris Cunneen and Jesseca Salky, for letting us post these pictures of their wonderful boy.
This is the first playground now installed at the REACH Early Intervention Program in Amherst, MA
In January 2015 we added a new game for helping develop visual skills. Helen Murphy painted a series of wonderful animal blocks, and they are hidden around the playscape. The children choose an animal block (tiger, lion, giraffe, elephant, monkey, zebra) from a small shelf and then search around the room for the matching animal. Thanks to Helen for her wonderful artwork!!
The second playground for children was installed on August 1st 2015 at the Care Center in Holyoke, MA. The Care Center is a wonderful program that allows young mothers to complete their high school education while providing day care and a learning environment for the infants and young children in the same building. The design for this playground is similar to the first playground built for the REACH Early Intervention Program, and will be used by children up to age three. I expanded the mat surfaces for this new one, so that there is a safety mat completely surrounding the structure. I am excited to see how the children respond, and this playground will get more foot traffic than the first model, as the children are present four full days per week.
A huge thanks to Brian Gulick who traveled up from New York to help with the installation. Thanks also to Anne Techner and Aida Diaz and the staff at the Care Center, who will be giving me feedback on how it works.
This new playground is dedicated to my dear friend Christine Sharkey, who recently retired from Cooley Dickinson Hospital after more than 20 years of dedicated and inspired work with children. Christine has always been a mentor to me, and her energy, creativity and work ethic have been an inspiration to a whole generation of pediatric therapists she helped bring together at Cooley Dickinson.
The Bogin Playscape Project was founded in 2010 to honor the memory of Nancy Bogin (1921-2009) an extraordinary early childhood educator and mentor for many. This project has partnered with the Collaborative for Educational Services in Northampton, MA as we grow and continue to seek grants and support to fulfill our mission.
We are grateful for this help!
Tom Murphy- founder- Bogin Playscape Project