How many ways to play?

Deputy Head of Junior School Amanda Ritchie discusses how play assists in developing social skills and unlocking creativity in our Junior School students. Discover our games and activities which prompt lateral thinking and social-emotional learning.

When children arrive at Scotch, the Junior School 'black thistle' pirate ship is always a focal point and parents ask whether it gets crowded during play breaks. Whilst the pirate ship is popular, there are many games and activities that our Junior School students engage with during recess and lunch.

The boys may not realise, but the learning doesn't stop when they exit the classroom. They learn many lessons during their play breaks, from negotiating who is 'it', whether the handball hit the line or deciding who is first to go on the zip line.

Loose parts play is a wonderful part of our playground because it supports the boys to create and play. Every day, different outcomes are formed thanks to the imagination of our students. Loose parts play allows opportunities for construction and reconstruction, invention and reinvention. We have noticed that boys who may have been 'lost' at their previous schools during play times can now engage with various aged students in creative, imaginary play.

"Introducing simple, everyday objects during recess and lunchtime can cut sedentary behaviour by half, improve creativity and boost social and problem-solving skills"

– Science Daily, 2014*

In addition to loose parts, our students can engage competitive table tennis games. Our Junior School Dean of Teaching and Learning Mr Norman is often found at one of the tables, playing with his non-preferred hand!

If the pirate ship, handball, chess, Junior Library, and loose parts are not utilised, then our magnificent ovals always beckon boys who long to run and kick a footy or soccer ball. It's wonderful to see the boys return to class ready to learn after having a run.

One of the most important parts after the break is that when boys enter their class, they 'check in' with their teacher to talk about any issues or difficulties they faced in the playground. This is an important part of social-emotional learning and gives the boys strategies to use when they next go out to play.

Amanda Ritchie
Deputy Head of Junior School

*RMIT University. (2014, March 3). Health benefits from free play confirmed by research. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 25, 2021 from