How to Reinvent a Playground

Introduction: How to Reinvent a Playground

About: Tinkercad is a free and easy, browser-based 3D design and modeling tool for all. Tinkercad allows anyone to imagine anything and then design it in minutes.

Lesson author: This lesson is inspired by a lesson from the Lesley STEAM Learning Lab at Lesley University.

Lesson overview: Open up your students’ minds by helping them discover design in the world around them. How can your students make a playspace that works for all children?

Recommended grades: Kindergarten through Second grade

Skills taught:

  • Identify shapes as two-dimensional (lying in a plane, "flat") or three-dimensional ("solid").
  • Analyze and compare two- and three-dimensional shapes, in different sizes and orientations, using informal language to describe their similarities, differences, parts (e.g., number of sides and vertices/"corners") and other attributes (e.g., having sides of equal length).
  • Model shapes in the world by building shapes from components (e.g., sticks and clay balls) and drawing shapes.

Estimated instructional time: 1-2 hours

Materials:

  • Computers and Internet access
  • Tinkercad account
  • Access to a 3D printer (optional)

Resources:

Teacher Notes

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Step 1: Build Context

Ask students to share what a playground is and what they do at a playground.

Share that they are going to work on designing a new playground for a school. Their job is to figure out what they think other kids would like in a playground. They might also identify which shapes they see and describe them.

Step 2: Conduct Research

Take the students on a field trip to the playground at your school. Ask them to make observations about things that they like about it or think are missing. Also, ask what shapes they notice in the playground.

Once you return to the classroom, do a sharing and recording session of group or individual observations.

Step 3: Design

Let the students know that they are going to build a new playground based on what they have observed. Have them start to build their ideal playground on Tinkercad.com. Depending on your student's abilities, this can be done three ways:

  1. Use an existing set of "virtual blocks" available on Tinkercad to allow them to design within the scope of those blocks.
  2. Work with them on shape identification through common playground items like a slide. Then have them start recreating each of the pieces to transition into independent design through Tinkercad.
    • Assign the Tinkercad playground building project
  3. Have them start with a blank slate on Tinkercad.com

Step 4: Wrap Up: Present Prototype

Students could share to the broader classroom or, alternatively, you could schedule a time with the principal where students share their ideas for the playground. Encourage students to identify the shapes utilized and problems solved during their presentation.

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