A group of imaginative kindergarteners taught Coach Wayne the power of imaginative play and created the Imagination Station on their playground

In my opinion, the word “game” implies boundaries and objectives. For example, in the game of tag you either try to tag others or avoid being tagged by others. People normally equate their success in a game depending on if they got tagged, how many people they tagged, how long they went before being tagged, etc. As a result, historically students that are fast enjoy tag games more than those who are not fast.

One of the many jobs of a Playworks coach is to ensure that all players of all abilities are having a wonderful time. Playworks professionals are effective through their explanation and modeling of safe tags, explaining and reinforcing game boundaries, giving and encouraging others to give high fives, having every student take turns and just being silly. The results of these proactive techniques allow all players to feel like the game is fair and inclusive.

I was puzzled when not all of my kindergarteners wanted to play my games. Some of them just wanted to be silly and run around like zombie monkeys, superheroes, or royalty with their friends. These five-year-old students have taught me that play is not just about getting into a game, but having the freedom to run and play with others, as they see fit. To make the most of their imaginations and energy, together the students and I created an area of the playground called the Imagination Station. The Imagination Station is a magical place where students bake cakes made out of tan bark, pretend to be dinosaurs, give each other (imaginary!) haircuts, find bugs, make large castles out of dirt and just be a fun loving kid.

Just like the rest of the school we keep the standards of the Imagination Station simple and positive. These standards include making good decisions, being respectful and solving problems. If someone has an idea that is not appropriate for school, the recess staff can quickly redirect that behavior to a more appropriate choice. This lets the students’ imaginations run wild both literally and figuratively in a healthy way. The Imagination Station truly allows students to experience the freedom of play in all its forms.


Guest blogger Wayne Everbeck is a Playworks program coordinator in San Rafael, California and has a passion for continuous improvement. With a degree in sociology and organizational change management, he is always looking for ways to make institutions more fun and affective.

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