Expand learning at shrinking playground

Expand learning at shrinking playground

When money is tight, schools need not only to watch how they spend money but also to look for ways to make money while expanding learning opportunities, as I’m discussed before here and here. Ways to make those connections are all around if you are open to seeing them.

For example, my Bainbridge-Guilford Central School District newsletter arrived this week.  The newsletter contains a flier in it from the Greenlawn [Elementary School] Playground Committee, which says:

Our current playground has been shrinking due to the safety of its elements and due to the nature of its materials it has been recommended that we phase it out completely.

That made me laugh out loud.

I had a mental image of a playground constricting, squeezing large groups of children into a small space, ejecting kids on swings across town, popping a kid from the top of a slide into the air.

Then I thought, The Incredible Shrinking Playground would be a great kids’ picture book.

Suppose instead of just asking the community for money, the school turned this into a learning opportunity that raised money for the playground.

Have students:

  • Write that book.  (A picture book text is roughly 20 140-character Twitter posts.)
  • Illustrate that book.
  • Design and layout that book.
  • Design a cover for the book
  • Research how to secure an ISBN number for the book
  • Research the process of copyrighting the book.
  • Research what state and local business regulations they have to comply with to sell the book in New York State.
  • Research ways to publish that book.
  • Do a cost-benefit analysis for various publication methods.
  • Develop a marketing plan for the book.
  • Prepare ads for the book.
  • Make a book trailer for that book.

Could the book make a profit? That depends on the publishing costs. Full-color print books are tremendously expensive to produce, but a full-color flip book costs almost nothing.

Would it be worth doing? Definitely.

Those activities would require students to apply classroom knowledge to real world writing situations and offer hands-on learning of saleable skills. When I went to the BG art students’ portfolio show a week or so ago, there was not one example of digital art in the show.  That flabbergasted me. Right now in my publishing business I need a graphic designer to do digital ads and ebook covers, a mobile app designer, and a database developer; not one of those jobs requires more than a high school diploma and the market for those skills is huge and pays very well.

The traditional methods of balancing school budgets by belt-tightening are not going to work much longer. It’s time all schools, but especially rural schools, start looking for new revenue streams that enhance and support the schools’ educational mission.

Photo credit: roos5 uploaded by halvemaan

[Broken link to photo credit removed 2014-05-08]

4 thoughts on “Expand learning at shrinking playground

  1. Some of the comments in your article make you seem like you do not fully understand the school district and world in which you live. Two things in particular jump out at me:

    1) Your comment about a school art show not displaying digital artwork. Every school has different programs in-house and out-of-house. Art shows are normally set up by an individual who chooses students’ work to display. The teacher may have chosen art created by certain students but that does not mean digital artwork such as graphic design is not being created in that school or through a BOCES program.

    2) Your comment about graphic designers, database developers, etc. not requiring more than a high school diploma. Those professions are very specialized and DO require post-secondary education – Bachelor’s degree, Associate’s degree, or at minimum a certificate program.

    If you are going to criticize a program or event, it would benefit you and your readers to do your homework. Also, good manners go a long way. If you have a problem with something, you could try stating your concern and offering a suggestion for improvement instead of attacking or insulting it.


    1. Doesn’t this suggest I’m stating a concern and offering a suggestion?

      Suppose instead of just asking the community for money, the school turned this into learning opportunity that raised money for the playground.


      1. That sounds more like you did not take the time to fully understand what the school has done. From what I have seen, the students, faculty, and staff did a lot of different things to raise money for the playground. The insert in the newsletter was only one of those things. To me, that seems like a wonderful learning opportunity.

        I am mostly concerned because you seem to write wonderful, helpful articles to guide people in the writing process which is a great contribution to the internet… then go on to post negative and attacking articles like this one that do not always have correct information.


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