Monthly Archives: July 2014

Playground Markings Explained – Playground Chess


Playground Chess

Playground Chess

Chess is a competitive strategy and competitive tactics game originating in india almost 1500 years ago before the 6 century AD. It is thought chess was used originally to train princes in warfare strategy and tactics giving them valuable training without having to be on the battle field.

Chess spread to  persia and the persian muslims  subsequently brought it to southern Europe with their conquests of the area. The current form of chess developed in the 15th century and in 1851 chess became classed as a sport with the first official tournament taking place in London in 1851.

Chess is a two player strategy game based in the origins of warfare game, thus maligning it an ideal game too develop competitive skills and the ability to deal with negative and difficult  outcomes.

Each player has the same pieces set out on the board mirroring each other, the board is made up of 64 squares alternating in colour, each player has 16 pieces. Each piece on the board has specific names and attributes and hierarchy and worth with the king and queen valued the most  highly. The aim of the game is to capture the opponent’s king using strategic moves of their pieces so that the king cannot move anywhere without being taken. When this happens the king is in check , if he can’t move out of check, check mate is declared and it is game over. If both players continue without ever being able to obtain check of the other player ,stalemate is declared which is similar to a draw.

Throughout the game the players try to capture all of their opponents pieces, thus making it easier to get the king in check, if in check the king has to move out of check and if he can’t, game is over.

first4playgrounds install large playground chessboards using 300mm x 300mm squares in white thermoplastic and any other colour from blue, black, red, orange, purple and green, However we find that the best results are when leaving a blank square of tarmac as the black square.  We also install a larger board using 400mm x 400mm squares called Chess 400.

Chess is a complex game which involves forward thinking and the ability to asses the opponents next moves. Chess grand masters of can calculate all the possible moves of their opponent and formulate strategy accordingly,  Magnus carlsen who was the youngest ever grandmaster at the age of 13 can calculate up to 20 moves ahead, thus the minds of the grand masters have been compared to the most sophisticated computer systems. This ability relays on memory, logic and pattern recognition.

Studies have shown that when chess playing children significantly improved their maths skills   and their ability to learn  which  was  also shown to be transferable in other areas of learning.

Studies also showed children developed  a greater motivation for learning  in comparison to non chess playing children. Chess also improves spatial awareness, critical thinking, logic, pattern recognition, memory, strategy and analysis as well as the social and emotional development of positive competitive play. Russian and European schools teach kids chess as part of their school curriculum and has been used to improve children’s IQ’s

Please download this Teachers Guide to Chess as it is a valuable article outlining more evidence that playground chess using playground markings can help children to develop.

The playground chess board can also be used for the game of Chequers.


Playground Markings Explained- Snake and Ladders


Playground Marking Snakes & Ladders

Playground Markings Snakes & Ladders Playground Games

Snakes and Ladders is a traditional game played with two or more children, ideal for children of all ages, KS1 upwards. The board game can be adapted to be used in the school playground with pre-formed thermoplastic markings.  The player throws the dice and whichever number it lands on is the amount of squares the player moves on the board. The winner of the  of the game is  the first to reach the final  number on the board. This is  made more fun and difficult  by having to negotiate the snakes on the board, if the child lands on a square with a snakes head on it, they have to slide down to the bottom of the snakes tail. Players can also slide up the board if they land on a ladder which can suddenly put the player in the winning position.

This is a fun and exciting game as the element of the unexpected is involved. Snakes and ladders traditionally has 100 square boards. At first4playgrounds we have the traditional board design but also have  designs that have 36 squares, 64 squares which are ideal  for younger children of preschool age and upwards  that are just starting  to developing their number recognition and counting skills, and to suit your budget or play area size.
This is a fun and educational game which helps children to identify numbers,  sequences, counting, adding  as well as learning how to interact with others in a  positive  social and competitive  environment. Goal setting and  reacting  positively with unexpected outcomes are also skills that are developed whilst playing snakes and ladders .

Research has suggested that snakes and ladders can vastly improve preschool children’s number recognition and maths skills, helping with  identifying the shapes of numbers and sequencing compared with children that have not played the game.


Playground Markings – Hopscotch Explained

Playground Marking Hopscotch Blog Photo

Playground Markings Hopscotch Designs

Hopscotch is a traditional playground game, it can be played with a number of children or alone, ideal for ks1 upwards. The child throws a marker which is usually a stone or beanbag and whichever square it lands on the child has to navigate the sequence without stepping/ hopping on the marked square. This can only be done by hopping on one leg if it is a single square, or two if its a double square.
Once they have hopped to the end of the numbers, they turn around and continue hopping back and pick up the marker on their way. They then continue to the end, still hopping, turn around and try to throw the marker to the next number starting at 2 and continue the sequence again. The aim of the game is to complete the full set of sequences from 1 to 10. If the child falls, looses balance and touches the lines, the game is over. Hopscotch is a game which promotes number sequencing and counting, fundamental movement skills such as coordination and balance. Muscle strength and agility is  developed with the use of single leg hopping as well as the positive social and emotional benefits of playing games which promote healthy competition and goal making within the playground environment.

first4playgrounds have creative designs which can stimulate the children’s imagination including  Rocket Hopscotch, Sunflower Hopscotch, 1-10 Dinosaurs, Leaf Hopscotch designs as well as the traditional hopscotch game in two sizes, 300mm squares for Key Stage 1 children and 400mm squares for Key Stage 2 children.



Playground Markings – Numicom Explained

Playground Markings - Numicom

Playground Markings – Numicom

Numicom is a proven approach to teaching maths for the Primary National Curriculum 2014 and beyond. It develops fluency in mathematics by using a visual, practical base to develop conceptual understanding and fluent recall.

Numicom also helps children to reason mathematically through the use of solid concrete shapes and objects and spoken language to explain and justify. It also develops children into confident problem-solvers.

Previously many children found the abstract ideas in maths difficult to understand without images and pictures to help them.  In the mid 1990’s, Romey Tacon, a former headteacher and co-author of The Numicom Approach set up a school based research project to see what impact structured images would have. She found that children made remarkable progress and teachers’ subject knowledge and maths pedagogy improved as they adapted the approach.

first4playgrounds supply and install Numicom Playground Markings which can be used as a colourful and fun teaching aid in the development of maths in children.




Playground Markings London

Playground markings installed at Arc Priory School - London

Playground markings installed at Arc Priory School – London

first4playgrounds carried out an installation of thermoplastic playground markings at Ark Priory Primary Academy in Acton, London last week. The academy school was built 2 years ago and at present has only nursery and key stage 1 children. The older children will be starting in September 2014.  On a very hot day in London our installation team were overwhelmed by the hospitality of the staff at the school, especially the caretaker who provided refreshments to the workers at regular intervals.  The main markings installed were an Activity Trail, 1 – 10 Dinosaur ,Number Ladders and Alphabet Spiral.


Playground Markings Devon

Playground Markings Devon

Playground Markings Devon

Last week first4playgrounds completed their first playground installation in Devon. After a two week spell with little or no rain the installation team expected to be basking in the Devon sunshine whilst working.  The weather forecast seemed quite good with only a few showers expected.  How wrong we were!  We had to wait between the showers to carry out a one day job in two days, and no suntan either. The 1-100 Number Grid looked great in the middle of the main playground.  A 1-25 Number Dragon was also installed on the pathway into the nursery school classroom for the children to count as they went inside after break time.  The infants yard had a Smiley Face Clock to help teach them to tell the time.

Playground Markings in Peterborough


Playground games installed at Itter Park, Peterborough

These three thermoplastic Playground Markings were installed by first4playgrounds in Itter Park, Peterborough last week. Itter Park is of the nicest and well maintained public parks that we at first4playgrounds have ever worked in. The park keeper and groundsman Trevor works with pride to keep the standard of the park at the highest level.  They even have five grass tennis courts which will be very popular as the Wimbledon Championships are in progress. Come on Andy Murray!  The markings were funded by the local community through fates and car boot sales to provide the children with the playground games we installed.  The main marking was a 2.5m x 2.5m Chessboard currently installed for £325.00 plus Vat, the park keeper will provide a set of large chess and draught pieces for the public to hire at a small cost. We also installed a playground Snakes & Ladders game which start at £295.00 plus Vat, a large dice can also be supplied for game. The final installation was a Hopscotch made up of 300mm x 300mm squares which we retail fully installed for £130.00 plus Vat.