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stories high, but it may be urged in their favor, that it is generally impossible to secure sufficient lighting and protect the school from the noise and annoyance of other activities that are carried on near at hand without having some open space around the school. Our magnificent new schools are built in the form of the letter H as a rule. They run directly across the block and get all of their lighting from the interior of the H. The open spaces between the legs are used as exterior playgrounds. The yards are covered with cement. Even in the best new schools this space is very inadequate and can not be used for any organized game except basket ball. In the past, until the organizing of the playground movement, the playgrounds were scarcely used at all except during the fire drills, so it is no wonder that they were inadequate. As these school playgrounds are used in summer they furnish fairly adequate space for the kindergarten children, and for the children from 6 to 14. But there is no provision for the older children except as they do class or team work in gymnastics or basket ball.
Evening play centers.-A second department of the playground work is the evening play center. This is practically a social settlement without residents. In New York, these have usually been carried on every evening of the year except Sundays and holidays. The session has been from 7 to 10, and no children under 12 or 14 have been admitted. They have had libraries and quiet game rooms, clubs and classes in gymnastics, and literary and debating clubs.
There has been one large room where the children could come in from the streets and play crokinole, checkers, authors, etc. As these rooms have always been located on the street level, they have been very accessible. There are to be 20 evening play centers open in New York City during the coming year. In the more crowded sections, there will also be a study room in each of these.
Roof playgrounds.-A third department of the work in New York has been the roof playgrounds, or evening roof gardens. These were begun in 1902. These playgrounds are located on the roofs of certain large public schools. They are inclosed with a wall covered with a heavy wire screen and lighted by electricity at night. They nearly always receive a cool breeze on account of their altitude, and are a great relief from the heat of the streets. These roofs are open from 7 until 10 every week night and a good band is provided. The parents and children under 14 are admitted. There are seats around the outside for the parents, and the children dance around the band in the center when the music strikes up. These roof gardens are generally crowded to their utmost capacity on hot nights, and the doors have to be closed to prevent a jam. The one with which the writer is the best acquainted, has an average attendance of about 2,000 each night. There are three or four teachers in charge of each of these, who maintain order and organize the dances. They are obliged to give their directions through the megaphone because of the noise. The school board pays the band $150 a week, the principal $24, and the assistants $15 each, making a total cost to the city of over $200 a week. While this expense seems large, yet, when it is remembered that this is only 10 cents per week to remove a child from the heat, temptations and dangers of the street and give him happiness and a love for music, all will probably feel that the expense is justified. Ten such roof gardens were maintained last summer.
Outdoor gymnasia and playgrounds.—A fourth form of playground is the outdoor playground. This generally consists of a vacant lot which is rented, or a park playground which is secured, equipped with gymnastic apparatus and provided with attendants. In connection with an outdoor gymnasium with its basket ball court, there is usually a kindergarten tent and a sand bin for the small children, with a kindergartner in charge. These playgrounds in New York are not large enough to play baseball, though some of those in Chicago and St. Louis are.
Recreation piers.-A fifth form of playground is the recreation pier, of which there are 7 in New York. These recreation piers consist of the second story of an ordinary pier. They are from 400 to 700 feet long and project into the rivers surrounding the city. Their fluttering flags and gay decorations enable them to be recognized at a glance. They are delightful places in summer because they are nearly always swept by cool breezes from the harbor, and, as they are open at the sides, they afford an unimpeded view of the pageant of the river with its endless bustle of ferries, tugs, schooners, barges, yachts, and ocean liners; a sight which is always interesting and instructive. These piers are adjacent to thickly crowded sections and when the heat drives the mothers from the tenements and the children from the streets, both flock to the pier. Then the kindergarten rings are formed out near the end, and all goes on merrily.
These pier kindergartens are very valuable object lessons to parents in the management of their children. The mothers often crowd up around the kindergartens until they have to be forced back by the pier attendants, and many mothers have been heard to say they did not see how the kindergartners made the children mind without striking them. There can be no doubt but much gentleness of discipline in the home has sprung from the gentleness of the kindergartners on the pier. Medicated milk may be bought for the babies at a penny a glass and there is often a dispensary for the sick children.
In the evening there is music for everybody, and there are often six or seven thousands of people present.
Swimming baths.-The swimming bath is a sixth form of the playgrounds which have been carried on by the board of education. In previous years, these have had a general director and some 50 teachers of swimming. Several thousands of children have been taught to swim each year. At present this work is under the department of docks.
The playgrounds in most cities are open from 8 or 9 in the morning to 5 or 5.30 in the afternoon. In New York the vacation schools are open in the morning from 9 to 12 and the playgrounds in the afternoon from 1 to 5.30. The playgrounds, however, begin earlier in the season and continue longer than the vacation schools. This year the playgrounds were opened on the 15th of June and maintained after school from 3 to 6 until the schools closed on the 1st of July. It is to be regretted that the school playgrounds should be closed to the children at any time in the crowded sections. The London playgrounds are open until dark every day without anyone in charge but the janitor, and no damage seems to be done. Their problem is simpler than ours, but our difficulties are surely not unsurmountable.
Probably three-fourths of the children reached by the school board playgrounds are at the schools themselves. Four thousand nine hundred children entered one of these New York playgrounds in half a day by school register. When the playgrounds were first opened in most cities, such crowds of children came that there was no room for play, and the whole playground became one surging mass of children, who shouted and pushed and made the place a pandemonium. After a few days the playgrounds were closed at a certain time, and no more children were allowed to enter, but even when the numbers were smallest this space was inadequate for vigorous play. There were often enough children waiting at the door at the opening time in New York to fill the playground to overflowing. During the first two or three years there was often trouble from gangs that came in from the street. For this reason one or two policemen were kept on the grounds all of the time.
Teaching children to play.
Probably there never was a worse place for play in the world than the lower east side of New York was ten years ago. For this reason when the playgrounds were opened in 1898 the children did not seem to know how to play. They would sit around listlessly until a game was organized for them, and generally the game broke up as soon as the teacher dropped out. The larger children paid little attention to the rights of the smaller children, and they crowded and pushed to get things as they were accustomed to do in the streets. This has been changed. The larger children have learned to take their turns along with the smaller ones in the use of any coveted piece of apparatus or privilege. The children have learned to play and to play far more gently than was their wont when their only playground was the street.
ACTIVITIES OF THE PLAYGROUNDS.
The school playground is a kindergarten for older children. Like the kindergarten, not all its activities are play. In the smaller cities there has been little specialization of playground activities, but in New York there are four departments of the work with four classes of teachers, each having a different kind of a license. These departments are the kindergarten, the library, industrial work, and gymnastics.
The kindergarten.-The playground kindergarten is much the same as any other kindergarten, and only trained kindergartners are employed. There are the usual kindergarten games and songs. For industrial work they have paper folding, weaving, and raffia work. The chief annoyances of the playground kindergartner arise from the free play period. While the games and industrial work are going on the kindergartner has only the regular problems to deal with, except that the numbers are very much greater (there are sometimes three or four rings, one inside the other, and three or four hundred children going around together), but when the free-play period comes there is apt to be trouble. In New York it has been the custom to give out toys to the children in this period. The children were not well known, their names were not usually taken, and stealing became very easy. The child of five who received a toy to play with often did not understand that the toy was merely loaned to him, and had very little conception of the moral obliquity involved in taking what he wanted, whosoever's money may have bought it. Consequently the toys melted away like snow before the summer's sun, and soon the kindergarten was in need of a new supply. Even if the toys were not stolen, it was always difficult to keep a child with a wheelbarrow or a chine hoop in his own proper area; and when he ran in front of a large boy who was playing pull-a-way, the consequences were often disastrous to both. This was also a peculiarly good time for loading the sand into the wheelbarrows and dumping it down the drains or about the yard.
The sanitary condition of the sand is a problem of which the smaller cities do not seem to have yet realized the magnitude. In New York the sand has usually been brought from the seashore. It is fine and white and costs about $7 a load, delivered. It would not soil a white dress the first day, but this sand is costly, and it seems very wasteful to throw it away in a few days for clean new sand. The first year the sand was not changed at all; it was placed in large bins 50 or 20 feet long by about half as wide. Often there were 100 children to be seen digging or building cities in one of these larger bins, and they always seemed perfectly happy; but after they had brought in pieces of watermelon and bread and butter and mixed them with the sand, and had come in on one or two rainy days with their feet covered with the filth of the streets, and the fleas had made it their home, the odor of the sand bin was not always pleasant, and it was far from being a
delight to the sanitary inspector. Since the first two years we have used small sand trays about 4 feet square, and the children are encouraged to sit around the edge rather than in the tray. The sand is changed every week.
The love of digging in the earth is one of the deepest pleasures of children. The little mothers and fathers who bring babies to the playground are usually admitted to the kindergarten section, and often seem as fond of the kindergarten games as the small children, so much so in fact that an older girl would often borrow a baby in order to get into the kindergarten. There is generally some industrial work provided for these older children if they are unable to take part in the games.
One of the questions that has exercised the New York kindergartners is whether the children should be allowed to play "street games in the kindergarten. There is a great difference between street games, and this question can not be answered offhand. Some teachers have suggested that the street games should be played so that they might be reformed. The children might be taught to play them gently, and the bad element might be eliminated from some of the rhymes. It is interesting to study the variations which the children introduce into the kindergarten songs when they play the games on the street.
The library. The library and quiet-game problem has not been well worked out anywhere. Much the most satisfactory work that the writer has seen any account of has been done in Pittsburg, where a large part of it has been effected by librarians sent around by the Carnegie Library.
The summer vacation is the time for general reading and the forming of literary tastes, such as the remainder of the year very likely gives no time for. It seems very important that the child's vacation should not be spent apart from books, as has been too often the case in our great cities. The books are too far away from the children and too difficult of access. One of the best things the playgrounds have done has been to bring a library to every playground, and put children in communication with good literature.
In New York the library has occupied one of the class rooms, which has been used for quiet games as well. There have been one or two papers, a few young people's magazines, and usually from 50 to 100 books, which, however, the children were not allowed to take home. This was a great inconvenience, as the child could not be sure of getting the same book again the next day to continue his story. When the children were allowed to take the books home, there was trouble in recovering them. The only satisfactory solution of this problem seems to me to be either the erection by the school boards of a small building in connection with each school to be used as a branch of the public library, with a regular corps of librarians in charge for the year, or the equipping of certain rooms of the school building itself for this purpose. I do not see how this great need can be met in any other way; and the education derived from wide reading is almost equal in value for the child to that derived from the school itself. The position of a playground librarian is one of great possibilities, but it is also a very difficult one to fill. First of all, she must keep order and maintain such a state of quietness as will enable the studious to read or study undisturbed. If she is to keep her library free from criticism, she must see that the children preserve a proper decorum in the room, ask politely for things, etc. Secondly, she must keep track of all her books and games, and see that the proper books and games go to the proper children, and that the children are in a fit state of cleanliness to receive them. She must see that the games returned are complete and no dominoes or checkers are missing. Thirdly, she must know her library so well as to be able to suggest books to children and to interest children in good reading by telling them what the story is about. She must know how to play all the games, so as to be able to teach the children how to play them, or else many will
not learn. Fourthly, she must know how to tell the great folk tales and classic children's stories well, so as to interest the children in good literature. A certain portion of each day should be given to such narration. Obviously all these things are tasks that require a high degree of technical knowledge and skill, and can not be expected of many who come into the system for six or seven weeks during the summer vacation. The day schools also are impeded in their work by the difficulty of the children in securing proper books, as supplementary to their regular work. Many of the teachers are now receiving in their rooms small collections of books from the public libraries, and are becoming personally responsible for giving these out to the children. The problem would be much simpler for the school and the playground if there were a special room or building devoted to library purposes and a trained librarian in charge for the year. This would have a great influence in making the school the social center of the neighborhood, which could not help being good for the school. The work has been so successful in Pittsburg because it has been in charge of a trained librarian from the Carnegie Library.
Industrial work.-Industrial work has been a feature of most playground systems for the past three or four years. It has arisen largely from the need of the little mothers who come with babies, or from the need of the older girls. It has consisted of sewing and basket weaving, though in some cases there has even been cooking for girls and carpentry for boys. This has been organized in the belief that this so-called work would be real play for the children, and such I believe it is. There are few sorts of play that are more interesting to children than constructive play.
Gymnastics and games.-A fourth department of playground activity is that of gymnastics, athletics, and play, all of which come under the head of gymnastics in New York at present.
In athletics not much can be attempted in a school basement or a 40-foot exterior court; but relay races, potato races, and high jumps are organized. The most popular games for the girls in the New York playgrounds are Jacob and Rachel, ring rope, circle ball, cat and mouse, and three deep. The most popular games for boys are three deep, circle-catch ball, battle ball, tag, and basket ball. Most of the newer games are importations from Germany. Among these, three deep or drei mann hoch is the most popular. It is a game requiring great alertness and agility. The children are formed into two concentric circles, so that each child in the inner ring stands in front of a child in the outer ring. There are also a runner and a chaser. The runner darts around the ring and stops either before or behind some child in the circle, thus making the line three deep. If the chaser can touch the runner before he does this, or the third child in the line before he runs away, the child touched must be chaser and the former pursuer becomes the runner. When the runner does not run too far before stopping the game is very exciting.
The swing and see:aw, of course, are very popular with the small children of both sexes.
Each playground in New York is equipped with a good gymnasium. In many of the smaller cities the gymnastic apparatus found in the playgrounds is homemade. In gymnastics there are regular calisthenic, wand, Indian club, and dumb-bell drills. There is class work on the heavy apparatus, and the girls are taught the two-step and schottische as well, in most playgrounds. Every playground where so much gymnastic work is carried on needs shower baths. All of the playgrounds of St. Louis are provided in this way, and many of those of Chicago. In New York in past years there has been only one public school provided with shower baths; but an order was given in February for the equipping of nine more in a similar manner, and I suppose every school, the playground