This 1972 manual for playgrounds leaders focuses on teaching appropriate leader conduct, tips on leadership styles, and managing children of all age groups. It also includes suggestions for arts and crafts, sports and athletics, drama and pantomime, and games and activities.

This exhibit includes sample pages and does not present the entire manual.

A yellow cover page with drawings of what appears to be fish

Neighbourhood Playgrounds Manual 

A typed table of contents for the playground manual

Playground Manual


Section A: Playground Leadership & Your Summer Playground Job
Excerpt from Reference Manual for Playground Leaders, Ontario Department of Education, Youth and Recreation Branch.

Section B: Games and Sports
1. How to Teach and Lead a Game
Attitude and Conduct of Leader
2. Quiet Games
3. Active Games
4. Sports
5. Resources

Section C: Theatre on the Playground
1. Introduction
2. Improvisational Poetry
3. The Orff Method of Music
4. Sensitivity Exercises
5. Pantomime
6. Dramatics for Kindergarten Age Group
7. Play Production on the Playground
8. Suggested Plays for Children
9. Puppetry on the Playground
10. Bibliography and Conclusion

Section D: Arts and Crafts
1. Introduction
2. Two-Dimensional Art
3. Lightweight Constructions
4. Paper Sheet Construction Origami
5. Three-Dimensional Construction
6. Print
7. Nature Crafts
8. Indian Folklore
9. Sound & Kinetics
10. Scrap Craft
11. Macrame
12. Index of Useful Terms 

An orange paper with the typed philisohpical message of what Playgrounds are

"Playgrounds -- Where Things Happen!"

Philosophy: It is our belief that playgrounds have a vital role to play in any community. In order to enrich the summer programme, it is essential for the playground leader to utilize community resources. Playgrounds afford an opportunity for today's youth to find:
- purposeful release of energy through creative play
- an atmosphere conducive to socialization
- opportunities for responsibilities and good sportsmanship
- mental and emotional security
- an awareness of their neighbourhood and community
- skills that may be used in the future
- satisfaction and a feeling of accomplishment in everyday tasks
- confidence and pride in themselves and the playground as a whole
in a relaxed, supervised, outdoor environment. Playgrounds allow for the natural growth and development of every child through free play. Playgrounds are an integral part of a child's developing years. 

An orange typed paper detailing what playgrounds should provide

What Should Your Playground Provide:

Fun: Opportunities to "let off steam" without annoying the neighbourhood, and to build strong, healthy bodies through games, crafts, songs, story-telling, skits and free play.

A Pleasant Place: Attractive, orderly and pleasant surroundings in which to play. Shade for quiet periods, good drinking water, and shelter in case of rain, are also important.

Space: So that children in the area have room to do the things they want to do.

Things To Do: A varied programme constantly provides interesting activities and opportunities to take part in favourite pastimes.

Equal Opportunities: A chance for everyone to learn and enjoy a wide range of skills -- both the star and the dud, for each age group, for both boys and girls, and for the handicapped -- where fair play is always the rule.

Learning Experience: All are encouraged to accept responsibility and there is training -- in both skill and knowledge -- for those who wish to learn.

Safety: Safety is "built in" and constantly practised in an area close to home.

Good Leadership: Based on sympathetic understanding of the needs of children -- leadership that makes use of all neighbourhood and community resources.  

A purple paper with typed wording


July 7, 1972 : Lyn Wenzell

Imagination is an instinct. It appears spontaneously. The young bird learns to fly and the six week old antelope learns to leap just as the child learns to create.

  • First, consider that the purpose of childhood is to provide a period of play. Play, which trains the higher animals and man for serious living, play takes place in a long period of immaturity in order for it to have its full effect. The higher the attainment required, the longer the time of preparation.
  • Next, play is directly related to the development of intelligence. Play arises in youth at a time when certain instincts are of serious need to the individual. in this way, play is necessary for the higher development of intelligence. imitation is also related to this development.

Impromptu Shows:

  • A game with a new twist! Musical Chairs (without the chairs).
  • Stand in a circle and give everyone a hat. Then give one player an extra hat. When the music starts, each player lifts the hat off his own head and puts it on the head of the person to his left. The trick is for the person holding the extra hat to slap it on his own head before his neighbour can put a hat on him. When the music stops, anyone caught with 2 hats is out.
  • Pantomime, the oldest of dramatic arts, is a way of expressing feelings and ideas with facial expressions, gestures, and movement instead of words.

Here are a few pantomime games!

  • What am I? Act out the part of animal or thing -- a kitten or a snake, a vacuum cleaner or a window shade.
  • Who am I? Take the part of some person -- an old man putting on his shoes, a baby making mud pies, Napoleon at Waterloo. You might make a game of acting out a nursery rhyme character.


  • The players divide into 2 teams. One team chooses a word or series of words to act out -- perhaps the title of a book or movie, a famous saying, a line from a poem, or an advertising slogan. The other team must guess the words from the actions. 

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Pantomime more than any other form of theatre offers children the opportunity to explore a new and unique means of communication since they use their faces, and bodies as vehicles for expression rather than words. Mime in the strict sense of its meaning is "the acting out of something without words or sound effects"; it can take the form of charades where children act out words or characters for others to guess or it can follow a story line or be representative of a familiar activity. With the addition of sounds and music, basic pantomime can become an even more interesting and creative activity.

When dealing with pantomime (or all children's theatre) it is often wise to introduce the initial concept as a game, or as a dramatization of a familiar story which the leader is reading, or perhaps the actions to a familiar song or record. The game concept is most often the wisest choice as it is the most practical for the playground situation, as well as being highly important as children's games are often the basis for children's drama. Suggested games for introducing the children in your playground theatre programme are as follows:

1. In the Manner of the Adverb

  • One of the participants is chosen "it" and leaves the area, while the others agree on an adverb. When "it" returns to the area he tries to guess the adverb by asking one player after another to act it out in pantomime. For instance, he may say "eat in the manner of the adverb". Thus, if the adverb is slowly, the player addressed eats slowly. To the next player "it" may say "run in the manner of the adverb". "It" is entitled to one performance from each player. If he fails to guess it by that time, he has to give up. If he guesses it correctly, the person whose action gave it away becomes "it". Some excellent adverbs are: jerkily, lovingly, industriously, conceitedly.

2. The Passing Game

  • The leader suggests an imaginary object to be passed around in a circle. This object to be passed can be a pea, a huge balloon or a sack of potatoes, for example. The object is passed around from person to person and the idea is to try to keep it from falling, and to indicate its size and weight by the action. This game can  be more interesting when played out of sequence with the object being passed at random to a surprise receiver.

3. The Magic Game

  • Abracadabra do, do, do
  • Turn into (leader suggests) one two, one two

The leader may create an imaginary wand and put a spell on her children. Recite the rhyme. They could turn into:
a) spinning tops
b) jumping jacks
c) vooming[?] eagles
d) bunny rabbits
e) hissing snakes
f) thunder rolling
g) fairies
h) ghosts
i) lightning
j) a dancing fire
k) dancing puppets
l) rag dolls 

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How to Select a Game

When selecting an activity, it is well to choose games that insure maximum participation for the children. Try to avoid having just one or two players active while others look on.

When selecting your games, consider the following points:
a) age, sex, and number of players
b) amount of time available and facilities available
c) equipment necessary
d) the ease with which the game can be taught
e) the value of the game: enjoyment possible, interest, activity, exercise, educational value
f) skills required
g) relationship to the rest of your programme
h) allow time for playing "requested" games

How to Teach and Lead a Game

1. Get the children into game formation at the place where the activity will be done.

2. Secure their attention before explaining the game.

3. State the name, make explanations clear, concise. Be brief and to the point.

4. Demonstrate the game at the time of explanation.

5. Plan details in advance -- know your activity well and have any required equipment ready.

6. Know how to play the game yourself and enjoy playing it.

7. Teach children to obey, enforce all rules.

8. Be firm and just when making decisions.

9. See that all participants have an equal chance. Let the children do things!

10. Keep things moving; use variation. Stop activity at its peak.

11. Don't scold, embarrass, confuse, or shout.

12. Maintain discipline by keeping interest high.

13. Be aware of the safety factors involved.

14. Try to match teams evenly.

15. Be enthusiastic -- the vitality, sparkle, shown by the children will be in direct proportion to the enthusiasm you have for the activity.

16. If the activity is not going properly, stop the game and begin again.

17. Emphasize that the sport of the game lies in playing and that winning is secondary. 

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Attitude and Conduct of Leader

1. Remember that the boys and girls of your team will reflect your attitude and conduct towards their opponents. Meet as leaders not as opponents.

2. Encourage and permit your captains to act as leaders.

3. Study the rules of all the games in which your children are participating -- they look to you for final decisions.

4. Require standards of decency for both conduct and language of your players and spectators.

5. See that your team, win or lose, parts on friendly terms with its opponents.

6. If your team is visiting, see that it is on time. If the game is played on your playground see that the equipment is on hand; have your players ready on time. Sportsmanship first, winning the game or event is second.

  • Your enthusiasm is contagious
  • Your programme is reflective
  • Its success is your success

Quiet Games: 

  • In daily playground programmes, it is recommended that 50% of the time be allotted to quiet activities. Such activities are especially suited to hot weather and periods of limited attendance, which prohibit active sports and games. Quiet activities include storytelling, playground dramatics, singing, listening to records, nature recreation and crafts.

1. Charades

  • The children are divided into two or more groups. Each group is informed that it must choose a word of two or three syllables and prepare to dramatize each syllable and the entire word without speaking, while the others try to discover what word has been chosen. This can be varied by acting out song titles, nursery rhymes, book titles and the like.

2. I Spy

  • One player is "it" and chooses an object within sight. "It" says "I spy with my little eye, something that begins with "B" (or whatever letter the object begins with). The players in turn try to guess what "it" sees. The player who guesses correctly then becomes "it". This may be varied using colours.

3. Geography

  • The first player begins by naming a city, town, village, river or other geographic location within a certain area. If he says Toronto, the second player must name another location beginning with the last letter, ie "O". The game continues in this manner. If a small group is playing, set the boundary lines for a small area. For a large group increase the area.

4. A B C

  • This game is a novelty relay in which, at a signal, the first player recites the alphabet as quickly as he can. The second player does likewise. This procedure continues until all have recited. The team finishing first scores.

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  • a type of abstraction made with fragments of many types of materials pasted or fastened together into an artistic composition
  • good use of scrap crafts
  • first projects result in spontaneous motivation excited by the materials
  • with older children, incorporate ideas for design if need arises
  • choose mood inspirations, or provide problems in "opposite" textures, colour, size, shapes, light, dark

Boxes for Building:

  • abundant resources for building anything the child desires
  • first tell a story, then let them build the setting, create the character or let them tell their own story after they build
  • or with huge boxes make an entire group effort to make child-like size trains or villages
  • a bit of paint and imagination can create an entire environment of fun

Stuffed Paper Animals (inspired by talk about animals, trip, etc)

  • double thickness of mill paper or brown paper where child draws or paints his fantastical animal bird or fish (simple designs are most successful) have the children make huge bodies with "fat" appendages that can easily be stuffed
  • pin the paper together so it doesn't slip
  • cut around the figure
  • rise wads of crumpled newspaper for stuffing
  • either glue ends or sew with yarn and a large needle -- all around to the beginning (while stuffing)
  • this exercise satisfies the need to work large and free
  • paint or use crayon work to finish
  • scrap felt or cloth ones can also be made on a smaller scale


  • pine or bass sticks -- pliable (from lumber yards, scrap boxes)
  • use heavy weight paper or plastic garbage bags


  • pieces of scrap fabrics are applied, or laid on, sewed or pasted onto one another (burlap backing and cardboard)
  • the design may be previously conceived on coloured paper, then used as a pattern for materials, but is not necessary other than the change may suggest new ideas
  • stitchery over top can add to the design using bright wool
  • applique techniques can be applied to the making of mittens, slippers, head bands, glass cases and purses. 

A green paper with typed wording


  • Special events either make your playground fun or a drag. They are activities which are arranged to add variety to the routine of the playground. The nature of the activities can be elaborate or simple, depending on the children involved, and the physical setting of the playground.
  • Special events can also appeal to teenagers or adults who are brought to the playground as visitors. They are valuable in publicizing the playground programme to the general public, as well as in attracting children who are not interested in the regular programme.
  • Special events, then, can provide an incentive to regular programmes by giving an aim and direction to various projects. In assisting the development of initiative, patience, and imagination, they also provide an extra challenge for the playground supervisor.

There are four types of Special Events, according to the length of time required:

1. Short Term Special Events: These events only take a few minutes and are used as a break from the regular programme to add new interest and stimulate increased enthusiasm.

2. One-Period Special Events: This type of event requires a morning, afternoon or evening, and can be used alone or grouped together to make a larger programme.

3. Day-Long Special Events: This type of event occupies the entire day.

4. Week-Long Special Events: These events are carried out over a period of a week and require more planning. They should be planned around a theme and relate to all parts of the programme, from crafts to active games. The "Build-up" and planning provides new interest and opportunity for the children and leaders.

Check These Points in Planning a Special Event:

1. Planning: Plan far enough ahead to allow ample time for proper programming. Set date, time, and place as soon as possible. Allow children and parents to help with planning. Remember: elaborate events take more preparation.

2. Authorization: Make sure that all plans have been cleared and approved by the various authorities (i.e. playground co-ordinators). Special Events away from the playground require parents' permission and transportation facilities. A trip through a local industry involves planning with the Public Relations office of the company.

3. Publicity: The bigger the event, the more publicity should go out on it. Use craft projects, posters in stores, pamphlets, etc., for children to pass out and take home. Do not forget that "What, Where, When, and Why". The best way to advertise is by word of mouth; therefore, ask the children to pass the news around the neighbourhood

A green sheet of paper with typed text


1) Blowin' in the Wind
2) Michael Row the Boat Ashore
3) Valderi
4) A Little Kindness
5) Spanish Eyes
6) When the Saints go Marching In
7) Jamaica Farewell
8) S-M-I-L-E
9) Tiny Bubbles
10) Goodnight Irene
11) Sentimental Journey
12) Moonlight Bay
13) Your Cheatin' Heart
14) Cruising Down the River
15) Ma (He's Makin' Eyes at Me)
16) We're off to Dublin
17) Where Have All the Flowers Gone
18) For He's a Jolly Good Fellow
19) Smiles
20) Rounds
21) Glory, Glory How Peculiar
22) One Finger - One Thumb
23) Kum Bay Al
24) The Unicorn
25) Bill Bailey
26) Five Hundred Miles
27) King of the Road
28) Everything is Beautiful
29) Hello Dolly
30) Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head
31) My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean
32) Heart of my Heart
33) This Land is Your Land
34) Four Strong Winds
35) Green and Green
36) Side by Side
37) Hail Hail the Gang's All Here
38) The More We Are Together
39) Pack Up Your Troubles
40) The Old Grey Mare
41) Daisy, Daisy
42) Let Me Call You Sweetheart
43) My Wild Irish Rose
44) John Brown's Baby
45) Tiny Bubbles
46) Boom D Ada
47) In a Cabin in the Woods
48) Junior Birdsmen
49) Hi Ziga Zumba
50) Gypsy Rover
51) Four Leaf Clover
52) Hello Dolly
53) Enjoy Yourself
54) Och Von Do Musicale
55) Snowbird

Title: Neighbourhood Playgrounds Manual
Date: 1972
Creator: Thunder Bay Parks and Recreation Department
Series: 156, Thunder Bay Central Files (Administration, Parks, Community Recreation)
Location: TBA 5249-19












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