Playground Patter was a newsletter produced by the Ontario Ministry of Education to help playground supervisors run their programs. The issues shown here, all from the summer of 1953, include tips on planning, carrying out, and evaluating the Playgrounds programme. It's likely that many of these suggestions were incorporated into the Fort William and Port Arthur supervised playgrounds.

These are multi-panel brochures and are transcribed in the order in which they are meant to be read, rather than how they appear when reading left-to-right.

A typed brochure on activities dedicated to play and playgrounds

[Panel 1:]

Playground Patter

Volume 1; Number 6
June, 1953

This week:
Tot lots
Tot lot programs

[Panel 2:]

A Few Program Suggestions

Rhythm Bands: Use simple tunes and the tots will pick up the rhythm quickly. The National Recreation Association, 315 Fourth Ave, New York 10, NY, has an excellent bulletin on making rhythm band instruments.

Singing Games: See the Community Programmes Branch manual on singing games.

Stories: Your librarian will help you find suitable material. Read the story several times before you attempt to read it to the children. Telling a story is better than reading it and changes of the voice to suit the characters and pantomime will please them even more.

Crafts: Allow free expression with colour. You supply large sheets of paper, crayons, paint, plasticine, asbestos powder and a few ideas ... but let the children take it from there. Try to have each project finished at the end of the period.

Change activities often ... while interest is still high.

[Panel 3:]

An idea for our tot lot: Once a week, or once a month, plan to entertain the mothers. Have refreshments for the children and dress it up like a tea party.

Tell us about the favourite craft on your playground. We'll use it next year!

While you're at it ... how do you like our Playground Patter series?

Next Bulletin: Special events.  

a pamphlet detailing activties for play and playgrounds

Tot Lots and Nursery Playgrounds

Tot lots meet a real need in many communities -- if strong leadership is provided.

Where can they be located?

  • a section of the public playground, or a specially designated back yard.

What is essential?

  • a low confining fence or hedge, plenty of green grass and shade, and a good leader.

What equipment do you need?

  • a sand box (in the shade), have the sand slightly damp
  • shovels, rakes and pails -- wooden spoons, cans and cookie dishes are just as good, but discourage the use of glass
  • sand moulds (rust proof) -- if tin ... paint bright colours
  • low swings (with seat enclosed) -- a low fence around them will help avoid accidents
  • suggested extras (these will help) -- low slides, horizontal ladders, lawn sprinklers, jungle gym
  • tables (for crafts) -- use miniature picnic tables, or set large tables into the ground; cover with oilcloth or building board

Keep all equipment simple and scaled to the size of the children.

What supplies?

  •  tempera paints
  •  paste
  •  crayons
  •  wall paper
  •  plasticine
  •  rubber balls
  •  construction paper
  •  asbestos paper
  •  newspapers
  •  blunt-nosed scissors

[Panel 2:]

Tot Lot Programs

Appeal to their imaginations ... plan activities that emphasize acting, make-believe and singing.

Be prepared for frequent changes .. little children will tire of an activity sooner than older ones, so be alert to change quickly from one phase of the program to another. Stop while interest is high.

They all like to make things ... no matter how small the child, colouring with crayons and making things to take home bring real enjoyment.

Be resourceful ... secure old wallpaper sample books or part rolls. Use the pattern side for cut puts and the back for finger painting; use bits of cloth, straws, scrap metal, macaroni, felt hats, potatoes and newsprint.

You'll need to plan ... You'll need to plan your program as carefully and as far in advance for this group as you do for any other.

Take good care of the children ... when using paints or crayons, protect the child's clothing with an apron or other covering. A worn shirt with the sleeves shortened and worn back to front makes an excellent apron. Be safety conscious. Anticipation is better than first aid.

Don't get caught short! ... always have extra games, stunts and activities up your sleeve -- together with a few special surprises.

[Panel 3:]

Daily Program Outline

The following schedule outlines the timing for some of the favourite activities these tiny tots enjoy.

  • 9:30 - 10:00 Check swings and other equipment; rake sand box and dampen if necessary. Go over the grounds for broken glass and remove litter; have opening exercises.
  • 10:00 - 10:30 Supervised free play. Encourage children to bring their wagons, kiddy cars, tricycles, scooters and doll carriages.
  • 10:30 - 11:00 Active games. Use relays, circle games and tag games.
  • 11:30 - 12:00 Supervised free play; clean up and announcements.
  • 12:00  Home promptly for lunch.

Some playgrounds run an afternoon program for these cherubs but most find that they are home sleeping. The conditions that exist in your local community will give the final answer as to whether you plan an afternoon program or not.


A pamhplet detailing activities for play and playgrounds

 [Panel 1:]

Playground Patter

Volume 1; Number 8
June 1953

This week:
Leadership problems
Awards and recognition
Leagues and tournaments 

[Panel 2:]

Try a Tabloid Sports Meet

Tabloid sports meets should have a place in your program.


  • They can include most activities or games
  • Everyone can participate.
  • There are no stars.
  • Everyone works for their team.

How do you plan one?

  • Divide the group into teams.
  • Equalize the teams according to size and age.
  • Set up as many events as you  have teams.
  • Establish high and low standards for each event according to size, sex and age. As an example, let's take the running broad jump for boys 12 years old. Set the low standard at 10 feet. Set the high standard at 15 feet. If the boy jumps less than 10 feet he gets 0. If he jumps between 10 and 15 feet he scores 1. If he jumps over 15 feet, he scores 2.
  • When every member of the team has had a turn, all teams rotate clockwise one event taking their score card with them.

The team that accumulates the greatest number of points wins the meet.

A pat on the back is better than a dozen ribbons.

[Panel 3:]

Take a look in a mirror!

  • Am I reaching all the children in the area?
  • How can I attract those I am not reaching?
  • Have I activities for all ages?
  • Am I using enough new ideas?
  • Is my playground well organized?
  • Do the children share my planning?
  • Am I using enough volunteer leaders?
  • Have I used all the aids available?
  • Are my records in good order?
  • Am I keeping in touch with the parents?
  • Are the children having fun?

Next bulletin:

  • Winding up the summer
  • Planning the finale
  • Evaluating your program 


A pamhplet detailing activities for play and playgrounds


[Panel 1:]

Leadership Problems

Are you running around in circles trying to do everything on the playground yourself?

Volunteer leaders may solve your problem.

Teenagers: They can be a bane or a boon .. depending on how you handle them.


  • send them away
  • separate them
  • make them toe the line
  • treat them as children
  • discourage gangs
  • ignore them
  • consider them as problems
  • expect trouble from them


  • recruit them as leaders
  • use "co-ed" activities
  • let them help plan
  • give them responsibility
  • encourage group projects
  • win them
  • treat them as people
  • have confidence in them

Parents: They can be staunch supporters or cruel critics ... depending on how you handle them.


  • discourage their visits
  • ignore their wishes
  • treat them as snoopers
  • exclude them from your program
  • call on them only when trouble arises
  • keep them in the dark
  • let them boss the playground


  • extend an invitation
  • honour their requests
  • treat them as helpers
  • plan special events
  • plan informal visits
  • keep them informed
  • use them as advisors

[Panel 2:]

Recreation Committee Members: They are likely your employers, your  backers, and your advisors. They will establish policy so heed them ... and win them.


  • consider them your pay cheque
  • keep them in the background
  • keep them off the playground
  • treat them as observers


  • use them as advisors
  • give them the limelight
  • encourage their visits
  • use them in your program

Awards and Recognition

Children strive for prizes because they crave recognition. Instead of using expensive awards try...

  • a word of praise before the group
  • giving added responsibilities
  • choosing the boy and girl of the week and using their picture on the bulletin board and in the press

In this way children will learn to play and compete for the sheer enjoyment and satisfaction of the game rather than for an award.

If awards are used, keep them...

  • inexpensive
  • simple
  • significant

Use such things as ...

  • ribbons or awards made by craft classes
  • a playground letter or crest
  • an inter-playground flag

Use awards only for unusual achievement or excellence. Rather than stress competition against others, have each compete against his own previous record.

[Panel 3:]

Leagues and Tournaments

Competition can be the life-blood of the playground, if controlled so that un-sportsmanlike practices do not develop as a result of trying to win at any cost. Participation by all should be your aim.

Leagues and tournaments have their place but don't work them to death. Use them from time to time much the same as you would a special event. Almost all playground activities are adaptable to tournaments.

Try an informal league in some popular activity early in the season and it will give you experience before you tackle the more permanent leagues.

You will find pyramid, ladder, knockout, elimination, round robin and consolation tournaments outlined in sports and Active Games - a Community Programmes Branch manual.

Equalize your teams or interest will wane rapidly. Weight, age, sex or skill can be used for grouping children.

Some tournaments will run for only an hour. Use a short time to ...

  • fill a time gap
  • accommodate changes caused by weather
  • handle unexpected changes in attendance

Some tournaments will run all summer.

A pamphlet detailing activities for play and playgrounds

[Panel 1:]

Playground Patter

Volume 1; Number 9
June 1953

This week:

  • Winding up the summer
  • Planning the finale
  • Evaluating your program

[Panel 2:]

The Trail's End

Before you pack up, have you ...

  • Made an inventory of equipment on hand
  • Packed everything away in cartons
  • Listed the contents of each box
  • Indicated on the inventory where the boxes are stored
  • Finished all your reports
  • Cleaned up the grounds

It's good business to say "Thank you" - To the parents who have assisted you during the summer

  • To any civic officials who have helped
  • To your volunteer leaders
  • To the caretaker of the grounds
  • To any merchants who have contributed to your program
  • To the local newspaper
  • To your local radio station
  • To the service clubs that have helped
  • To any other organization you have called upon for assistance
  • To your committee

Exhausted? ... Are you a nervous wreck?
Maybe, but be truthful -- it was an enjoyable and profitable experience ... wasn't it?

Finish with a bang
Say "Thank You"

[Panel 3:]

We have enjoyed preparing these bulletins for  you ... and we hope they have been useful. If there is sufficient interest shown to warrant the continuance of this service, Playground Patter will likely be back with you in 1954. Send in a brief outline of some of the things that have worked for you, experiences that will be of interest to others, and unusual activities that have proven successful. We can make use of your contributions next year.

So long for now.

See you next year!  

A pamphlet with activties for play and playgrounds

[Panel 1:]

Winding Up the Summer

Will the season finish with a fizzle ... or are you going to end it with a bang?

Why not plan a whizz-bang closing program for the last day; or, better still, build up to a climax with a week chock full of special events?

There are definite advantages in showing the people what the children on your playground have been doing all summer.

  • It gives the children a sense of achievement
  • It's an opportunity for everyone to gain recognition
  • It brings the neighbourhood together
  • You can publically thank all who have helped
  • It holds the children's interest to the very last
  • The taxpayer sees how some of his money has been spent
  • It makes it easier to get money for the next year
  • It's good publicity and aids public relations

Planning the finale:

  • Begin your plans well in advance
  • Work all the details out on paper
  • Arrange lots of publicity
  • Line up plenty of volunteer helpers
  • Be sure they know their job
  • Have mimeographed programs with exact times and places
  • Pick out your runners and whips
  • Draft a master sheet for events and winners
  • Check ... and double check all equipment
  • Start on time ... and keep things moving

[Panel 2:]

Planning the Program


  • Try not to conflict with some other big event in the community.


  • Someplace that is shady and where there are bleachers and suitable play areas.


  • Plan a variety of events that will include everyone and show most of the activities used during the summer.


  • Do not arrange a program of athletic events that glorify several stars while the rest sit and watch.
  • Give points for entering.
  • Arrange events so that everyone in an age group has a chance to enter.
  • Have the competitors working for the good of the playground ... not the individual.

This will test your organizational ability!

Program Suggestions

  • Passive displays: arts and crafts, sand box, playground zoo.
  • Active displays: game demonstrations, dramatics, sing-songs, dancing, kite flying, rhythm band.
  • Individual competitions: bicycle rodeo, tether ball, paddle tennis, quoits, bean-bag  board.
  • Team competitions: volleyball, croquet, tin-can cricket, tug-of-war.
  • Novelty events: peanut scramble, widest grin contest, largest bubble-gum bubble, most freckles.
  • Extra events: swimming meet, track meet.

[Panel 3:]

Evaluating Your Program

Are you all finished? Not quite!

While the picture is still fresh in your mind sit down and evaluate your program.

Here are some questions that may help.

  • What would you do differently if you could repeat the summer?
  • What activities were most popular?
  • What activities were least popular?
  • Have you suggestions for improving unpopular activities?
  • What special events would you recommend for next year?
  • Were your leaders satisfactory?
  • How could your volunteer leaders be better trained?
  • Did your safety patrols serve their intended purpose?
  • Have you any recommendations to increase their effectiveness?
  • Did the apparatus and equipment meet your needs?
  • Did your inter-playground leagues detract from your over-all program?
  • Can this interference be avoided?
  • Have you any pictures that would be useful for next year?
  • Can you add specific recommendations for your committee to pass along to your successor?

Make your report as complete as possible and your evaluation accurate.

It will help:

  • future planning
  • you, if you return next year
  • your successor

Title: Volume 1, No.6; Vol.1, No. 8; Vol.1, No.9 of Playground Patter
Date: June 1953
Creator: Ontario Department of Education
Series: 121, Fort William Parks & Recreation Files
Location: TBA 4802-12


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