Sherman School: A rural Californian landscape… in a city Elementary School

Space for a whole class to congregate amongst the citrus trees.

I was lucky enough to visit Sherman School in September 2011 as part of the International Green Schoolyards Conference.

How did they do it?

Compost beds in a series so that compost in various stages of decomposition can be observed and moved.

The grounds at Sherman School are testament to the power of community collaboration, but they also could not have happened without the vision and energy of individuals with a real passion for taking learning beyond the classroom.  Project evaluations from school grounds organisations across the world (including LTL in the UK) demonstrate that the most successful and sustainable projects are those that harness the enthusiasm and skills of the whole school community, but that also benefit from the sure-footed support of a school Principal or Head.  At Sherman, the Principal understood the improvements a playground transformation could effect on the curriculum and on children’s wellbeing, and in 2004 sought support from the school community.

Linda in full flow during our visit.

They rallied round, with parents fundraising on a grand scale, local businesses donating products, time and money and the school board agreeing to employ a spectacularly charismatic Garden Educator, Linda Myers, who is part funded by the parents’ association.  The Green Schoolyard committee has been a key driver of change at Sherman and still plays a vital role in the development and care of the grounds.  Usually that just means ‘fundraising’ but this committee most definitely gets its hands dirty, working alongside children and staff to shape and maintain the spaces.

Poetry inspired by spending time in the lush grounds at Sherman Elementary

Investment in the grounds has been significant; along with a number of other San Fran schools, the Proposition A voter-approved bond system in San Francisco provided $100,000 to Sherman to enable it to upgrade its facilities.  On the Green Schoolyards Conference tours, we visited four schools that had benefited in this way, and it was clear that generous financial investment married with passion and skill can result in stunning, practical, ecologically sound green schoolyards.  At some schools, the missing link in all this is a clear purpose – many school grounds projects become unloved because they’re unused; little or no thought being given at the start to why changes are to be made, or how the space will be used, by whom, how often and essentially, who will look after it.  At Sherman, intelligent leadership and long term planning by the Green Schoolyard committee has ensured the integration of this space into every child’s learning and every playtime.

A view towards the composting bins, taking in the ‘top’ pond and the whole class seating area.

The transformation design was the work of a specialist green schoolyard designer, Sharon Danks, who worked alongside 450 Architects and landscape architects Miller Company.  They were able to create a design that altered the space almost beyond recognition (check out the before and after pics on the Proposition A website above).  In her book Asphalt to Ecosystems, Sharon says, “in the process of converting their paved, flat yard into a hilly green schoolyard, 68% of the impermeable surfaced on the playground [was removed].  The renovation replaced approximately 9.500 sq feet of asphalt with a rolling hillside filled with plants, mulch and permeable pathways that allow rainwater to soak into the ground”

The school and its local community did much of the actual landscaping themselves, with the help of landscaping professionals who undertook the major works.  The Garden Educator, Linda, organises work days and celebrations, runs gardening classes and plans on-going maintenance.  This paid role is key to the sustainability of the garden, but even at Sherman, the budget faces cuts due to the difficult financial climate.

Several of the schools we visited in the Bay Area had these deliciously tactile relief prints of plants, set into the concrete pathways.

 

How is the space used?

The transformed playground presents a varied and compelling vista onto the street.  A mixture of hard and soft landscaping with formal and informal interventions creates an interesting space that has successfully addressed a number of the school’s identified needs.  The San Francisco Green Schoolyard Alliance (SFGSA) worked with the whole school community to create a brief, and the ability to grow and harvest food crops was high on the priority list.  Growing spaces at Sherman are already mature and productive, as well as self-sustaining; the school retains and uses its own seeds, cooks the produce and uses this ‘from fork to fork’ process to teach children about key sustainability issues including water conservation, food miles, production techniques and healthy eating.

This large pond is fed by a waterfall and makes use of recycled and ‘captured’ water. Huge, smooth boulders around the edge protect the pond from accidental ‘visits’ by children and provide the children with wonderfully shady, sociable and playful places to pass the time.

It’s not just about growing food, however.  Their landscape architect helped them transform a typical asphalt playground into an outstanding and fully accessible landscape for learning and play.   A key element of the grounds at Sherman is the bold use of water, and the ornamental and wildlife planting that surrounds the water features is spectacular and purposeful.

On a searingly hot day, the playground offered shady and sheltered spots as well as sunny seating.  Gorgeously tactile stone seat / basins contained just enough water to splash fingers through and the huge grasses, ferns and Gunneras swished in the breeze.  Dusty paths trail through planted areas, down steps and around raised beds containing fat, shiny tomatoes and irresistible (to me at least) limes and lemons.

This is a playground that a whole year group could make use of a the same time; it feels vast, but also contains smaller, more intimate spaces where small groups can work together or a solitary youngster might compose poetry inspired by their school grounds.  Seating ranges from long curved timber benches to accommodate twenty or more, to tiny boulders clustered together in the shade.  Planter edges serve socialising

The upper pond – partly hidden by planting and connected to other elements of the landscape by undulating and twisting pathways through the vegetation.

Gardening, watering and maintenance equipment is accessible at several places around the site and recycling is firmly embedded at Sherman (as it appears to be throughout the Bay Area) with a gated recycling zone with over a dozen wheely bins clearly in everyday use.  The Garden Co-ordinator was very proud of Sherman’s series of connected composting bins and I admit to being impressed with the almost industrial scale they are maintaining.  There is plenty to compost in the grounds here so it does need to be pretty efficient and the system of moving compost along a series of top-lidded marine ply boxes is working for them – even if it is very labour intensive.

 

What are the lessons for other schools?

Note the surface – a dusty loose dirt, entirely in keeing with the design and spirit of this landscape. Not suitable for every school grounds – but here in the dry, warm climate of the Bay Area, it works perfectly.

There’s no doubt that the phenomenal changes at Sherman School would not have been possible without the significant funds allocated via the Bond scheme.  As with many projects on this scale, it’s important to assess the achievement in manageable chunks – not many schools will ever benefit from $100,000 to improve an existing playground, but many, if not all schools will be able to find something in this space that speaks of their own aspirations.

I think the use of water – the celebration of water, in fact – is special at Sherman.  I can’t think of a single school I’ve visited where standing water is a core and unfenced element of a main playground.  Rightly, schools and settings are careful to use water with a healthy respect for the real risks it can pose; at Sherman they’ve innovated to make it possible for children and young people to freely enjoy the sensory pleasures of water.

Waterfall taking water from the upper level to the main pond area via a series of boulder ‘steps’. A flight of real steps runs close by, with mature, statement planting between the two.

They’ve also emphasised the essential and special nature of water; the part it plays in regenerating our world and the importance of conserving it wisely are of paramount importance.  Children love water – they love being in it and around it; they love watering their garden and drinking cold fresh water; the sound of water helps calm nerves and the creatures that make their homes in it are of endless fascination.

I left the school site feeling that if I took nothing else from this snapshot of life at Sherman School, I would at least take away a different perspective on how water can be managed to provide a joyful intervention for children and nature.

 

More information:

www.shermanschool.org has lots of pictures of the children creating and caring for their garden areas, plus some captivating pics of the garden when it was new, taken from the roof of the school.

www.sfgreenschools.org for details of the approach the San Francisco Green Schoolyard Alliance uses in its transformation projects, plus case studies and other useful resources.

www.growingschools.org.uk for resources and information about growing food and other plants in school grounds.

 

 

Announcing the launch of the International School Grounds Alliance: press release

New international group forms to address an increasingly sedentary and risk averse generation of children, disconnected from nature.Growing school grounds movement gains international voice with formation of The International School Grounds Alliance.

Cam Collyer reads the Westerbeke Declaration – the global statement of intent developed during September 2011’s International Green Schoolyards Conference

Berkeley, California (April 24, 2012)

Organisations working to enrich the lives of children through outdoor learning and play have a new global school ground network where they can turn for ideas and support. Leaders in the school grounds movement from Australia, Canada, Germany, Japan, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the United States have formed the nonprofit International School Grounds Alliance (ISGA) (www.internationalschoolgrounds.org), which brings together a wealth of experience in the fields of school ground use, design, education and management around the globe. The ISGA invites like-minded organisations and professionals to become members and collaborate to nurture and grow the international movement to help schools make the most of learning and play opportunities on their grounds.

“Children around the world, growing up in very different environments and cultural settings, all need engaging childhood learning and play experiences for healthy development and enjoyment,” says ISGA co-founder Sharon Danks of Bay Tree Design in California. “The ISGA is not only a resource, but is also a call to action for teachers, parents, and students to go outside, improve their school grounds and explore the world first-hand.”

The ISGA believes that school grounds should:

● provide powerful opportunities for hands-on learning

● nurture students’ physical, social and emotional development and wellbeing

● reflect and embrace their local ecological, social and cultural context

● embrace risk-taking as an essential component of learning and child development

● be open public spaces, accessible to their communities

The ISGA does this by:

● focusing on the way school grounds are used, designed and managed

● facilitating a dialogue about innovative research, design, education and policy

● fostering partnerships between professionals and organisations across the globe

● organising international conferences, gatherings and other programs

● advocating for student and school community participation in the design, construction and stewardship of school grounds

● promoting the value of enriched school grounds as uniquely positioned, engaging environments for children

To commemorate the founding of the ISGA, the organisation has launched a website www.internationalschoolgrounds.org and just released a brief new inspirational film, entitled Voices from the International School Grounds Movement, which includes perspectives from leaders in the school ground movement and inspiring photographs of school grounds around the world: www.greenschoolyards.org/blog.

Water course and planting in the playground at Sherman School, San Francisco.

Context

School grounds are crucial childhood landscapes, both in terms of the considerable time spent there and the messages to children (both explicit and implicit) that come from their design and care. They are located in almost every neighborhood, town and city around the world, and often act as important community gathering places in addition to their roles as places of learning and play during the school day. For many children, school grounds are the primary place they play outside—so what they experience there resonates with them and helps to shape who they are.

“In this rapidly urbanising century, there has been a substantial erosion of children’s outdoor time both for play and learning in the space of a single generation. The reasons for this decline – as well as the negative repercussions – are numerous. With ISGA we want to address these issues and reverse the trend.” says ISGA co-founder Cam Collyer of Evergreen in Canada.

In today’s world, children’s opportunities for outdoor learning and play in nature are disappearing around the globe, due to a variety of influences that include:

● cities that are poorly designed for both children and natural systems

● overprogrammed childhoods that leave children with little free time

● powerful parental fears of “stranger danger” and an increasing fear of risk and liability

● school grounds that are barren expanses with little to support children’s play and learning

ISGA co-founder Mary Jackson of Learning through Landscapes in the United Kingdom says, “As research from around the world tells us, learning and play outside can have a truly positive impact on our children. Their results improve, they concentrate more in lessons, they develop their interpersonal and social skills and have improved mental and physical health. Already many schools around the world are seeing this is true as they develop and use their grounds for the benefit of children, but there is still a long way to go and we want to be able to share lessons learned with schools across the globe. The ISGA is a great way of sharing these lessons.”

Join the Movement

We invite organisations and individuals to join us and declare their commitment to creating and caring for these special environments that support children and young people’s learning, play and wellbeing. Membership is free. Join the ISGA to help build this global movement:

● Visit our website – International School Grounds Alliance: www.internationalschoolgrounds.org

● Sign up to become a member – www.greenschoolyards.org/home/join_us

● Watch the video – Voices from the International School Grounds Movement: www.greenschoolyards.org/blog

● Join the discussion in our LinkedIn group: “International School Grounds Alliance — Public Forum

The next ISGA conference will be hosted by Evergreen in Toronto, Ontario, Canada in Fall 2013.

For More Information

● Please contact Sharon Danks at info@internationalschoolgrounds.org or 510-872-4554

● Inspiring, full color images of school grounds around the world are available upon request.

About the ISGA

The nonprofit International School Grounds Alliance (ISGA) is a membership organisation, bringing together leaders in the fields of school ground use, design, education and management. Membership is free. We invite organisations and individuals around the globe to join the ISGA and declare their commitment to creating and caring for these special environments that support children and young people’s learning, play and wellbeing. To join the ISGA, please visit our website: www.internationalschoolgrounds.org  The International School Grounds Alliance also invites organisations and the public to join an ongoing dialogue about school grounds on our LinkedIn group: “International School Grounds Alliance – Public Forum

International Green Schoolyards Conference, San Francisco 2011

The ISGA formed in Fall 2011 as a result of the Engaging Our Grounds: International Green Schoolyards Conference held in California in September 2011, co-hosted by New Village Press/ADPSR, San Francisco Green Schoolyard Alliance and Bay Tree Design, inc. This event was the first international green schoolyard conference held in the United States, and the second in a new series of international school ground conferences organized by the ISGA’s three co-founders: Cam Collyer, Evergreen (Canada); Sharon Danks, Bay Tree Design (USA); and Mary Jackson, Learning through Landscapes (United Kingdom). The conference series began with an international school grounds conference in Winchester, England in June 2010, entitled The World Outside the Classroom, hosted by Learning through Landscapes. The next ISGA conference will be hosted by Evergreen in Toronto, Ontario, Canada in Fall 2013.

ISGA inaugural steering committee members include (in alphabetical order; * = ISGA co-founders):

Atlanta Taskforce on Play (USA)

Bay Tree Design, inc. (USA) *

Boston Schoolyard Initiative (USA)

Center for Ecoliteracy (USA)

Children in Nature Collaborative (USA)

City Sprouts (USA)

Community Built Association (USA)

CONCERN, Inc. (USA)

District of Columbia School Garden Program (USA)

Environment Design Institute (Japan)

Evergreen (Canada) *

Green Schoolyard Network (USA)

Grün macht Schule (Germany)

Kansas Association for Conservation and Environmental Education (USA)

Learning Landscapes (USA) Learning through Landscapes (United Kingdom) *

Learnscapes Planning and Design (Australia)

Life Lab Science Program (USA)

Movium – Centre for the Urban Public Space at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (Sweden)

Naturskolan i Lund (Sweden)

New Village Press/ADPSR (USA)

Occidental Arts and Ecology Center (USA)

Play Learning Life (United Kingdom)

PLAYLINK (United Kingdom)

REAL School Gardens (USA)

San Francisco Green Schoolyard Alliance (USA)

San Francisco Unified School District (USA)

School Ground Greening Coalition (USA)

Teichmann Landschafts Architekten (Germany)

Trust for Public Land, NYC Playgrounds Program (USA)

450 Architects, inc. (USA)

Individuals who appear in the ISGA video entitled,Voices from the International School Grounds Movement, include (in order of appearance):

Cam Collyer, Program Director, Evergreen (Canada)

Dr. Petter Åkerblom, Landscape Architect, Movium (Sweden)

Prof. Robin Moore, Director, Natural Learning Initiative (USA)

Manfred Dietzen, Landscape Architect, Coordinator, Grün macht Schule (Germany)

Dr. Ko Senda, Landscape Architect, Environment Design Institute (Japan)

Ayesha Ercelawn, Garden Educator, Tule Elk Park Early Education School (USA)

Arden Bucklin-Sporer, Executive Director, San Francisco Green Schoolyard Alliance (USA)

Julie Mountain, Director, Play Learning Life (United Kingdom)

Mary Jackson, Development Manager, Learning through Landscapes (United Kingdom)

Helen Tyas Tunggal, Director, Learnscapes Planning and Design (Australia)

Sharon Danks, Principal, Bay Tree Design, inc. (USA)

Bernard Spiegal, Principal, PLAYLINK (United Kingdom)

Birgit Teichmann, Dipl. Ing., Landscape Architect, Teichmann Landschafts Architekten (Germany)

Voices from the International School Grounds Movement was filmed and edited by Erika Brekke. The video was coproduced by Erika Brekke and conference director Sharon Danks. The video was filmed during the ISGA’s 2011 conference, co-hosted by New Village Press/ADPSR, San Francisco Green Schoolyard Alliance and Bay Tree Design inc.  Video link: http://www.greenschoolyards.org/blog

Reflections after my ‘Siege!’ blog post: affordances in the real world

Reviewing the ‘Siege! or, How We Learned About Pivots and Counterweights’ blog post of a month or so ago, I have been left contemplating ways in which we could create play features for schools that would enable this large, noisy, spontaneous, whole body play – AND introduce new language AND inspire new knowledge at the same time.  I don’t imagine I’ll be designing many full sized drawbridges for any schools, any time soon.  But there is no doubt that this ‘real world’ learning stuck in the children’s memories – they are still talking about it now – because it was fun, it was purposeful and perhaps also because it was so unexpected.  That’s the challenge, I think.

Too often, spaces for children are barely designed at all (I don’t count picking from a catalogue as design) and even when the space is exciting and varied and risky, I’m not sure schools are really gleaning all they could from the features and fixtures.  I want to work on this over the coming months, and try to find affordable solutions to this conundrum.  Money is tight in schools; money for the grounds is even more scarce.  If a school is to invest in change outdoors, do the spaces have to offer more than ‘just’ playfulness, more than ‘just’ curriculum support or more than ‘just’ recreational opportunities?  Would this begin to negate play’s inherent value as an end in itself?  Would it be harder to assign ‘learning value’ to the spaces?

The popularity of parkour (which to all intents and purposes, the clambering and cable sliding was) shows that play in ‘real’ environments is hugely attractive.  My two haven’t caught the skateboarding bug yet (only a matter of time, I’m sure) but I can see that specially designed spaces, however participatively planned they were, are probably nowhere near as challenging or exciting as playing / boarding in the real world.  Yet when children try to play ‘in’ and ‘on’ the real world, the reaction of adults is frequently to stop the activity, because the real world isn’t ‘designed’ for play and most of it wouldn’t pass British Standard muster.

Recreating the special qualities of our short play session on the drawbridge and barriers would mean allowing children to be playful with the everyday objects in their grounds.  It would be okay to run and leap off the benches, balance on the walls, explore the padlocks and hinges on gates, feel the weight of a felled tree trunk.  With robust risk-benefit analysis to back it up, few, if any, places in school grounds would be out of bounds to children.  Some spaces might be more carefully supervised than others, and some might only be used during lessons.  But I know from many years of observing children learning and playing outdoors at schools, and now playing out with my own children and their pals, the places that children like to be in are often the ones we as adults would most like them to keep away from.  The broken fence, the spiky Berberis, the narrow steps, the bins… the ancient cables right next to a deep and murky canal… all have a magnetic attraction for children.

I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve heard myself, or one of my colleagues say in a training session, “It’s not about what you want to HAVE in your grounds, it’s about what you want to be able to DO out there” – it’s mantra at Learning through Landscapes.  I for one am going to redouble my efforts to really draw out what it is that children want to be able to do – and hopefully along the way we will discover stuff they didn’t even know they wanted to do until they started to explore outdoors with free ranging minds and bodies.

After School, After Dark

I’m finding wordpress horrifically inflexible, so have made this blog post into a pdf download instead.  I do apologise if this is inconvenient – my snazzy new website will have a simpler blogging system for me, but in the meantime, here’s my meandering thoughts about outdoor play after dark: After School, After Dark – click this link.

An early iteration of the After Dark trug – stacks more in there now.

So, parents, you think outdoor play is vital do you? Really…?

I’ve been pondering my own hypocrisy.

Playing with Fire - After Dark Club shenanigans with the neighbour's pampas grass

A couple of weeks ago, exhausted by a relentless day of parenting two lively boys, my patience finally failed when Junior PLL the Elder answered back just ONCE too often.

“Right, that’s it!” I screeched, in a measured, thoughtful, responsible way.  “There is no way you are going out to play tonight.  You are not going out.  End of.”  There was quite a bit more in the “If I’ve told you once, la la la” vein, most of which I wasn’t even listening to, let alone the Junior PLLs.  There were tears (not mine) – but my resolve did not waver.  My boys love playing outdoors (well, really, whose child doesn’t?) and this was a severe punishment indeed.  It certainly showed those two rascals who was boss.

It was only the next day that I began to feel very hypocritical.  I believe – no, stronger than that, I know – that outdoor learning and play is vital for young children’s proper development, growth and wellbeing.  So why on earth did I use restriction of it as a punishment?  Would I withold food or water?  Nobody would deny that they are vital for young children’s development, growth and wellbeing.  Would I send them to school half dressed, just because they were tardy getting ready in the morning?

Like most of the punishments (such as they are) in our house, there was plenty of grumping for an hour or two (much of it from me, as I realised I now had the little terrors housebound for even longer), followed eventually by a “sorry”, and another very dull talk from me about understanding what the transgression meant to everyone who’s ever met JPLLTE, and then we moved on.

I’ve been brooding over this far more than is healthy.  I’m veering between “parenting is hard, get over it” and “how can you preach to others that getting children outdoors is essential, if your own children are banned because of a bit of banter?”.  I thought writing a confessional blog post might ease my conscience, but it hasn’t.  Now it’s even more obvious that I need to find other, more reasonable ‘consequences’ to avoid punishing the children in a way that has actually been far more punishing for me than it was for them.

Any ideas?

On dogs, in school grounds

Couldn't agree more, guys.

Skimming and scanning through my school grounds’ Google alerts over the weekend, I was struck by how many news items refer to dogs in schools grounds, and by how frequently theser reports portray dogs in a negative light.  Now, I’ll admit I’m a cat person,  not a dog person.  But I don’t dislike dogs per se… I’ve met some very lovely ones in my time (RIP bonkers Beano, a Heinz 57 if ever there was one, pale and hairy, skinny and exuberant and as all dogs should be, unswervingly loyal).  I’ll state my case upfront; it’s ignorant dog owners I don’t like – you know the kind.  Their dogs are the ones allowed to answer the call of nature on public pavements, pathways, yes, school grounds – and the owner just ignores it.  Leaves it there for the next unfortunate person to step in.

But something about this veritable avalanche of dog stories worries me a little.  Do we hate dogs?  Surely not?  Why are so many school grounds banning dogs?  Why are many schools even banning guide and hearing dogs?  Really, they are.  I’m a strong believer in schools and school grounds at the heart of the community, and if I advocate this as a position statement (which I do), I have to accept that a ‘community’ incudes all comers, including dog walkers.  So a solution must be found that keeps school playing fields and playgrounds relatively clean and hygienic.  If you’ve read any of my other blog posts, or followed me on Facebook you’ll perhaps have guessed that I’m all for danger and germs in childhood – but I do draw the line at animal faeces – yes badgers and foxes, that means you too!

What is the solution?  ‘Dog parks’?  More bins?  Free nappy sacks?  Timed entry and exit? CCTV?  Machine gun nests on the PE block?  Or a seriously concerted and collective effort to educate these really rather vile human beings (I have no hope of educating the real wildlife) and to help them understand how THEIR anti-social behaviour (note: not their dog’s) affects the enjoyment, and potentially the health of every other school grounds user?

This is more like it - grass roots action to save the grass roots from doggy doo

Pupils in Tranmere took this approach, designing posters (now made into permanent signs) highlighting the need for dog owners to clean up after their pets: http://tinyurl.com/6o7f4sx

In Florida, children worked on improvements to a local ‘dog park’ to entice dog walkers away from the streets and playgrounds, whereas in Arizona, one school’s grounds are becoming less accessible to the community and their dog park is to be phased out, to huge local uproar.

In Ireland, a boy with cerbral palsy is to be home schooled after the governors banned his assistance dog: http://tinyurl.com/6n5aacz

Schools are very used to clearing up drug paraphernalia, or evidence of other antisocial behaviour – but one school in Dover was forced to remove a dead dog, which had been dumped in its grounds.

I could go on, but won’t because as I started to investigate this, I started to lose the will to live after the 20th ‘dogs banned from school grounds’ story… and I delete these alerts after a couple of months, so these are recent stories.  By my reckoning, 90% of the stories are negative.  Novelist Julia Donaldson is attempting to redress the balance, with an article in last weekend’s Sunday Times outlining her intention to dress her dog in a HiViz jacket and carry an ear trumpet in order to allow the two of them to gain access to… well, almost anywhere actually.

Or, " For The Sake Of Our Children, Please Always Pick Up After Your Dog"

Dog faeces is disgusting, yes.  Dog owners who don’t clear up after their dogs are disgusting, yes.  But how do we move forward?  I’m not suggesting dogs should be allowed to run free on school grounds, especially not during school hours.  But there are around 100,000 acres of school grounds in the UK – a huge and still, after over 20 years of campaigning, underused resource.  Perhaps it’s time to get the responsible dog owners on our side – to make the case for greater use of school grounds by the local community.  After all, who best could insist that their irresponsible peers pick up or pack up?

Image

Junior PLL the Elder

Junior PLL the Elder

JPLLTE is generally less keen on writing than on, say, wielding a lightsabre, but following the ‘frost’ excercise 100m beforehand, he was keen to trace out the letters of all the signs we came across on the way home. We also spent time poking the logo on a salt bin, tracing the letters on a skip (oooooh I do love a good skip) and pointing out the arrows we’d chalked on the pavement about a week ago. It’s good quality pavement chalk from the Pound Shop – it never comes off, come rain, snow, sleet or screeching tyres.

As a side issue, why is it that small boys will not do up their coats, even when it’s minus 2?

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Junior PLL the Younger

Junior PLL the Younger

JPLLTY has always loved mark making – frost on the timber sleeper, when he had a perfect writing stick already proved too tempting to resist. He wrote his name (much, much shorter than JPLLTY) several times, and I noticed that the “e” was almost perfect each time, whereas he struggles to work out which way round it goes when using pencil and paper. I think I’ll let him loose with some pavement chalks this weekend.