Tyres as ‘safe spaces’

I have implemented a couple more of Elizabeth Jarman’s ideas this weekend! See Communication Friendly Spaces and More Communication.

Elizabeth is a consultant who helps schools, nurseries and other childcare settings create a positive learning environment for their children. She came to visit us and came up with some really super ideas.

One was to utilise tyres as a ‘space for one’. I was intending to get some tyres to use as planters, or another idea I had was to cut them in half and submerge them in the embankment (a bit sticking out) to use as steps. Elizabeth’s idea was different though. She said that tyres make wonderful seating because they create  safe little space that is just big enough for one bottom. And there is a buffer around the outside making them a protected space from other children.


I took my Elizabeth with me to the tyre shop and the man said we could take as many as we wanted for free…so I said to Elizabeth that we would take three. (makes sense, I’ve got three kids who will use them) but Elizabeth said I had to get four:  three public tyres and one secret tyre! She wanted to take her tyre up to her hidey hole and put it in there to use as a private space…but she knew if the other children saw only two tyres they would know she had taken hers off somewhere secret and they would want to find her private place!!


I can’t take a picture of Elizabeth’s private space, she won’t let me in case the other children see it. It is in amongst the bushes though! When we got home from the shop the first thing I did was call ahead and ask Paul to please keep the other children occupied so me and Elizabeth could hide her tyre and then I called the other children and they were very excited to find the tyres. They stacked them and climbed on them and got totally filthy (they had bits of old rubber inside them and they were playing with that at first) and then they left them in the front garden and it looked like Step-toe and Son’s yard out there!!




Eventually though I decided on a really good place to put them: we got hens this weekend (see next post) and as a result we had to relocate the slide. The children used to climb up the rigging and then argue about who got to sit on the top of the slide as it is a lovely sunny spot


So this is what we did!

chickens etc 121

I took this picture from our living room window which is on the first floor. You can just see the chicken wire fence below them and a couple of the chooks!

It was my idea to put them there…without the slide the rigging was leading to nowhere so I had to think of something else but the children really love it and it is a great hang-out for them. They’ve been sat there chatting in the sunshine (it gets the sun in the afternoon) but it was a bit rainy today. They can watch the chickens from up there and they can make loom-bands and read comics! It is absolutely brilliant and we don’t have any “he’s on my bit!” arguments because they all have their own special protected space!  Not only that, the front lawn no longer looks like Steptoe’s yard!

Also as an aside…after a couple of days use they’ve stopped making their hands dirty as whatever oil and bits of rubber that was on them has worn off. Perhaps if you are bothered about this you could jet-wash them before you give them the kids?



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