IMAGINATIVE - Mattie McCullough Elementary School students (from left) Jayce Saboe, Jaxon Sharp and Gavin Kelly set to work on figuring out ways to utilize various items during a Ramshackle Play event at the school on June 26th. Mark Weber/Red Deer Express

WATCH: Students at Mattie McCullough enjoyed a day of ‘Ramshackle Play’

Event saw youngsters reach new levels of creativity

Students at Red Deer’s Mattie McCullough Elementary School enjoyed a day of ‘Ramshackle Play’ on June 26th.

Ramshackle Play is described as a unique play medium which encourages self-discovery, put on through the Amped2Play team.

“We are trying to create a brand new educational experience for kids including science, math, technology, the arts and social. All of the curriculum pieces actually fit today in this space,” explained Brandi Heather, chief knowledge officer and co-owner of Amped2Play.

“We come in and take a school space and spend three, four or five hours with a school, and the kids get to play at their absolute best.”

The key thing about Ramshackle is that the creativity quotient knows no bounds – children are free to build things with all kinds of materials that are brought to the site.

“Today, we saw tons of learning – we saw things like measuring, we saw kids using saws and hammers, and being stronger and faster than they actually think is possible. The potential of these kids to use creativity, like Ramshackle Play experiences, will last their whole entire school year,” said Heather.

She explained that Ramshackle play springs from a movement that started long ago in the UK when bomb sites, after the Second World War, were being used as play spaces.

“What we found out was that kids were able to take places that were in ruin and find ways to create play, because it’s there drive to do that,” she said. “There are some amazing ‘wow’ moments for the kids where they have never experienced the ability to play in this kind of open, self-directed and child-directed play,” she said.

“Some of the kids said things like, ‘I never thought I could move that tire’, or ‘I didn’t have four friends to move this, and now I have four friends.’ Teachers today also said they couldn’t have this happen in their classroom, but everything they had happened today will last a lifetime. That’s why we do it.”

Kim Kirkwood, vice principal of Mattie McCullough, said that Ramshackle Play gave students an amazing opportunity to learn and hone lots of different skills as well.

“It gives them a chance to cooperate, it gives them a chance to be creative and to have zero parameters, and to recognize creativity that sometimes they don’t use with their friends as much as we have them use before. So we are trying to promote that out here,” she said, referring to the school field where all the boisterous activity was taking place.

Students came out to explore the site in groups, and they literally ran down the hill to begin to explore the creative possibilities.

“It gave them the opportunity to play together today, and to create just the most amazing structures.”

Kirkwood said it’s also a great means of developing a sense in kids of how anything is possible when they unleash their creative sensibilities and work together. She saw the students create everything from obstacle courses to pirate ships to forts. “Their imaginations weren’t confined by anything today,” she said.

It’s also about enhancing strong elements of character.

“You don’t quit – you look at it from a different angle, you go and find some help, you go and grab a partner. You work together if you can’t figure it out yourself,” she said of behaviours that make the Ramshackle experience even richer.

“The things that they created were absolutely amazing. The cooperation and the teamwork we saw happening today was absolutely magical.”