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Bronxville Union Free School District

Fifth-Graders Redesign Bronxville Playground

Bronxville Elementary School students designed models for their school playground as part of a fifth-grade social studies project that aimed to develop their understanding of responsible development and apply it to a relatable, real-life situation. The students had a $100,000 budget for the project and used construction materials such as tin foil, straws, cardboard, pipe cleaners and yarn.

“The students learned what it really means to work together,” fifth-grade teacher Lauren Geremia said. “They were motivated and driven to come up with ideas that the Bronxville community would be inspired by. They were hoping to see some of their ideas come to life.”

The students were first asked to identify some of the ways the Bronxville playground could be improved. Then, they observed how their classmates played and conducted online research about other playgrounds around the world and the different types of equipment available. They also surveyed their peers in the younger grades to gain a perspective on what equipment they were using. Geremia said the students collaborated in small groups to design a playground that took into consideration the feedback and collected data.

“The goal was to use the students’ understanding of responsible development to redesign a school playground that is innovative and addresses the needs of the community, environment and economy,” said fifth-grade teacher Stephanie Kennedy. “It was exciting to watch students grapple with a real-life problem-solving activity in which they applied critical thinking skills, engaged citizenship and innovation. Students were clearly invested and engaged throughout the process of the project.”

Once the students submitted their project proposals to their teachers, they began construction. Some of the models the students came up with included a vegetable garden and new wheelchair-accessible swing sets. One group suggested they sell some of the current playground equipment in order to upgrade the new playground with the proceeds.

“They were very motivated to improve the playground space,” Kennedy said. “They had to focus on the needs and opinions of other people.”

Fifth-grader Nicolas Park, whose group created a playground that included a big climbing set, an additional swing set and a basketball hoop, said they had a substantial budget to work with in order to create a playground.

“It was fun to see all the different things we could do with our playground,” he said. “I learned that if you take the time to do something, you can accomplish a lot. We got to be creative by building structures out of straws and tin foil and slides out of cardboard.”
Fellow fifth-grader Cecillia Wilson said her group wanted to incorporate a variety of equipment that children of all ages could enjoy. She said she enjoyed conducting the research for her project and building a playground model.

“The students worked hard to be collaborative, innovative members of their groups,” fifth-grade teacher Vanessa Janec said. “They learned how to navigate differences in opinion, as well as overcome challenges that arose during the project. This project was unique in that it was very real for the students. The students felt invested in the activity because it was something they could relate to.”

  • Bronxville Union Free School District - Image
  • Bronxville Union Free School District - Image
  • Bronxville Union Free School District - Image
  • Bronxville Union Free School District - Image
  • Bronxville Union Free School District - Image
  • Bronxville Union Free School District - Image
  • Bronxville Union Free School District - Image