Saturday, September 18, 2010

How playgrounds have changed over the years

My little guys love being outdoors and they love going to playgrounds. I was thinking about how much playgrounds have changed since I was their age. I really don't remember visiting many playgrounds as a child other then the one at my elementary school. The playgrounds I remember have little in common with the plastic jungle's our children and grandchildren play on today. My favorite piece of equipment, the merry-go-round, is hard to find these days. I loved playing "King of the Mountain" on it. A few kids would spin the merry-go-round as fast as they could then everyone would jump on and see who could get to the center first. You really had to be careful and get a good grip when you jumped on or you could get thrown off. Guess that was a little dangerous and that is probably why they have removed them from playgrounds.

Most of the equipment on older playgrounds was made of metal like those big shiny slides that would burn your legs if you were wearing shorts. They were really tall and had no safety bars on the sides of the ladders. We would shimmy up the metal poles of the big tall swing sets and hang from across the top before dropping in the thick white sand below. Today's playgrounds are mostly made from wood or plastic with safety and fitness in mind. We didn't have the big colorful jungle gyms and fancy play equipment that entertains our kids. We had to use our imagination. As a child, I played a lot of hopscotch and jump rope. Sometimes I draw hopscotch on the driveway with chalk for my little guys and we practice jumping from square to square. It holds their interest for a short time but I can remember jumping hopscotch for hours as a child.

I grew up in a house that was surrounded by pine trees. That was my Father's business but I will save that for another blog. My neighbor and I would entertain ourselves by raking the pine straw and arranging it on the grass in the shape of a house. We would pick up pine cones and outline the walls then put baby dolls in each room of the house.

We also spent many hours playing school. There was a wooden shed (between our two homes) that had a dirt floor. We salvaged a couple of tables and chairs that our parents weren't using and set up a classroom. We even had a chalk board on a stand. We were both school teachers and any child that showed up to play would get recruited to be a student. It didn't take long for word to get out that we were mean teachers and you didn't want to be a student in our class. We had a big thick board that was our paddle and we did have to use it a few times. We mostly had imaginary students and we would beat the paddle on the walls of the old shed to get their attention. It's a wonder the shed didn't collapse.

Believe it or not, my old playmate is now a principal in the town I grew up in and her sister is a Math teacher at the high school there. (She was once a student of ours!)


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