Wednesday 7 October 2020

Reimaging Outdoor School Spaces to Enhance the Delivery of Quality Physical Education

 Submitted by: Sonia Sheehan, HPEC Vice President Communications and Physical Education Specialist at FFCA SWE Campus

The unprecedented end of the 2019-2020 school year with all classes finishing online, required the need for teachers to readjust and reimagine what the 2020-2021 school year would look like.  Teaching physical education outside seemed to be a positive direction to move forward with.  However, the ability to teach successfully outside regularly was a dilemma that required a solution.  Maintaining active participation in physical education class, while helping students keep their 2m physical distance was part of that challenge.  Strategically placed pavement painting on the tarmac at a Calgary school enabled a reimaging of the outdoor school space to allow for the continued delivery of quality physical education.

The school tarmac was a blank canvas ready to be transformed into a new thoughtfully designed learning space.  Some key elements that required consideration during the design process included: 2m distance between movement stations for students, appropriate elementary grade level designs, colour coordinated features, a variety of intentional movement opportunities and home base circles to allow students to have a safe (physically distanced) location to begin and end each class.

Researching painting and stencil options followed by measuring available dimensions of the tarmac resulted in a planning strategy and design including the paint, stencils and equipment. Approximately 40 hours were devoted to planning, designing and painting the tarmac.  The end result was a reimagined functional outdoor learning space that was safe for everyone during the global pandemic. 

The tarmac painting features include:

·       48 numbered and colour coordinated (red, blue, green, yellow, purple, orange) home base circles 2m apart. All colours correspond with the six equipment colours used regularly.

·       250m footprint loop around the perimeter of the activity space, 6 footprints = 2m distance

·       6 colour coordinated 4 squares games each 2m apart

·       8 station fitness circuit with 2m distance between each station

·       8 different fundamental locomotor skill words spaced 2m apart

·       54 colour coordinated solid shapes (circles, squares, stars, diamonds, pentagons, hearts) spaced 2m apart

·       2 lane 30m track with a start end, finish end and an agility ladder in the middle of the track – 2m distance between the middle of each track lane

·       26 letters of the alphabet 2m apart to serve as a physically distanced line up location

The tarmac design has been a successful project and has enhanced the delivery of quality outdoor physical education classes.  The newly painted tarmac is an asset when teaching during the current pandemic, but the value of the reimagined outdoor learning space will be seen in many years to come.  Take a tour of the tarmac by watching the following video: