During the past few weeks there has been a huge interest in digging in our ECF5-Grade 2 playground. The availability of several trowels and buckets, combined with an avid interest in finding special rocks and crystals, has sparked this initiative. As much as this was encouraged, the playground was beginning to look like we had an invasion of moles, so it was decided to designate a specific area of the playground for this digging to take place.

The area chosen was next to the Mud Kitchen and already enclosed by old tyres. Last week some children helped to prepare this area of the playground by helping to hammer the signs and numbers to the boards. Numbered buckets and trowels were prepared and pallets with corresponding numbers were also designed so that all tools could be returned to the appropriate place.

Since its opening early October not a day has gone by where any trowels have been left on the board. Groups of children from all grade levels – ECF5 to Grade 2 – have been engaged in digging projects, both individually and in groups. ECF has had fun exploring the digging pit in the rain (hence the importance of all weather clothing!), a group of First Graders have been digging dinosaur pits and tunnels under the pallets and filling them up with water from the mud kitchen, and a group of Second Graders have been using the digging pit to find both soil and worms to make a wormery to observe.

It’s exciting to see what will happen next!

Some of the benefits of the Digging Pit for Children:

  • Gross Motor Skills can be developed by using the different tools – E.g. digging with trowels, transporting buckets of soil.
  • Children can exhibit a sense of responsibility by taking care of tools and returning them to their designated spots
  • Lots of open-ended, creative and imaginative play opportunities can be explored, working both individually and in groups.
  • A bond with nature is created, which in turn can relax and calm children.

Persisting in relevant and rich challenges is something seen daily in the digging pit. From working out how long it will take to fill the bucket with soil to building a tunnel under the pallet, every experience helps children to think, problem solve and work together as a team.