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5) Designing a park

Children use observations from their visit and the results of their research to develop proposals for improving the park. They can produce a large classroom display or a model of the park. The display could comprise children's labelled drawings or a collage of downloaded images. Use children's photographs (taken from their visit to a park) and images cut out from magazines.

Models could be made using a range of modelling and simple construction materials.

If there is no suitable local park, an alternative would be ask children to design a completely new park, perhaps on some open space, waste ground or a piece of reclaimed land. Show children an aerial view of the site to be used. This will be important when considering access into the new park and provision for parking.

When proposing changes or planning a new park, children could think about:

  • Using existing landscape features - streams, ponds, waterfalls, ravines, cliffs and trees. How will these be incorporated into the overall plan? How might they be used? Encourage children to use their imagination.
  • Adapting buildings and spaces that no longer serve their original purpose. What new use can they be given?
  • Which plants, trees and shrubs children and adults might like to see? Look at photographs of what grows in a park and flowers in parks along with images from plant catalogues or gardening magazines. How will they be planted? In borders, raised beds, hanging baskets, troughs or geometric designs within lawns?
  • Constructing features with natural and renewable materials. These include boulders, logs, ropes, logs, bricks, stone and recycled materials.
  • Introducing animals and birds into the park, such as a pets' corner, aviary or butterfly house.
  • Designing places for children to play and spaces for teenagers to hang out.
  • Designating areas where people can play sports. These could include multi-purpose courts or all-weather pitches.
  • Providing facilities such as toilets, parking, refreshments, signage, seats, shelters and litter bins (for recycling).
  • Multi-purpose facilities that serve a variety of community needs and functions.
  • Making it easy for everyone to get around the park.

Once children have developed their proposals for the park they could think about:

  • How to make the park and its facilities safe for all visitors? What safety signs and features (see examples in safety in a park ) might be needed? Where would they put them?
  • How improvements or new developments will be looked after? What new rules might be necessary?
  • Whether any security measures are needed? Will the park be enclosed, if it is not already? How will crime be prevented? Will they advocate installing CCTV or employing a park keeper?
  • How to encourage the local community become more involved in the park? Which groups would be interested? What can they do - help with maintenance, organise events, act as guides, assist with fundraising?