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2) Open spaces around us

2) Open spaces around us

What is in a park?

In groups, ask children to list all the things they know are in a park. Show them photographs of park scenes and park features to help them extend their list. Talk about what different features are used for and who uses them. What would happen if these features were ever damaged or taken away? How would this affect the park and the enjoyment of people using it?

What people do in parks?

Describe or list the different things that people do in a park. What do they do in groups, families, teams or by themselves? What can they do at different times of the day/week/year? Use what people do in parks to aid discussion. Talk about how some parks are used by local workers over lunchtime for exercise, relaxation, eating, reading or to socialise with colleagues? Discuss why the park is special to different people such as local elderly residents or parents with very young children. How would it affect people's lives if the park was not looked after or its land used for development?

Who uses parks?

List the different groups of people who use parks. What they do in them, when and how often?

Who looks after parks?

Discuss with children how parks are looked after and the roles of:

  • The Council
  • The Parks and Gardens Department
  • Friends of the park
  • Volunteers
  • Work-experience students and youth opportunity placements.

Use images from looking after a park to help children understand how parks are looked after and the issues and problems faced by those who look after them.

Invite your local councillor into school to talk about how decisions are made concerning local parks, where the budget comes from, who decides how the money is spent, and how the parks are managed. Prepare questions in advance on the subjects children would like to find out about or issues that they might like to raise.

What can we do to help look after public parks?

Talk about ways that children can help look after parks or to encourage others do the same. Identify what can spoil parks. Look at images in damage and consequences and discuss how this can be discouraged or prevented. What responsibilities do people have who use parks? Create a list of park rules using ICT. Invite a local parks and gardens manager or a member of staff from the council's leisure and recreation division to talk about how parks are looked after and the problems they face.

Why do parks have rules?

Discuss with children why rules are needed. Begin with the school playground. What rules are there for using it? Who are the rules for? Discuss how and why rules are made and enforced. What rules might there be for a park? Which might be for the protection of the park and which are for the safety of its visitors? Show children photographs of looking after a park and safety in a park to introduce the reasons why rules are needed.