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The 5th Grade Inclusive Playground Project
by Pam Horrocks, Educational Technology Specialist, Lower School; BCIL Fabrication Innovator & Collaborator

At the beginning of the year, students in 5th Grade read the book Out of My Mind about a girl with cerebral palsy. Through this book, our students experienced the life and thoughts of Melody as she shared her story about living with a disability. Students continued the conversation of inclusion and acceptance when Ms. Glick invited Shane's Inspiration to come talk with the students. Shane's Inspiration is an organization that builds universally accessible playgrounds to foster interaction between able-bodied and disabled children. After hearing Marne, a representative from Shane's Inspiration, share their important work, I was deeply inspired. I wanted our students to design and create their own playground that would welcome children of all abilities to learn and play together. In our EdTech classes, students learned the benefits and value of play in childhood development, as well as the three different types of play–physical, sensory, and creative—and how each of these can be developed during play. Students then researched inclusive playgrounds, chose a theme for their playground, and identified various playground equipment based on the three types of play. Students then sketched and labeled their inclusive playground drawing on paper or in the online program Sketchpad. To complete the project, the students wrote about their own favorite playground memory. I was so impressed by their thoughtful conversations, compassion and empathy as they designed and created while thinking of others. A few students shared:

"The Inclusive Playground activity was so much fun! My favorite part was designing my playground. This was fun because I liked designing my playground for everyone to use. I hope we can do something like this again!" —Alexa

"I think the Inclusive Playground Project was a really fun opportunity to learn about what inclusion means and we learned about different ways to make a playground inclusive. I also think it was cool that we got to use Sketch Pad to draw our playground." —Eleanor

"I'd like to say that I LOVED the project. It was so much fun to make a playground that was accessible for everybody." —Rafael

Check out the presentations here: RED Group / BLUE Group / PURPLE Group

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