The goal of the Let´s Play project (2003-2006) was to produce information about play environment as well as develop a learning environment in which learning is facilitated through activity: play and games.
The Let´s Play project functioned jointly with SmartUs project as illustrated in the following figure.
Figure 1. Parterships in Smartus project
The Let´s Play project examined how play and game play can be included in pre-school and comprehensive school practices. A lot of studies about playful leaning environment were conducted during the project. For instance, children’s viewpoints on their ideal play and learning environments were elicited and the techers views on playing in school context were examined. The research went on to evaluate pilot technological applications to determine how well they could support children’s playful activities. These applications were tested in an indoor playground located in the Santa Sport Center in the city of Rovaniemi, Finland.
The professionals in design, learning, physical education, and technology were combining their efforts and two pilot innovative outdoor playgrounds were designed and built in the yards of two schools in the city of Rovaniemi. The environments are located in schoolyards.
In the pedagogical studies (e.g. Hyvönen, Kangas, Kultima & Latva 2006) the new kind of playground was named Playful Learning Environment (PLE) referring to an outdoor learning environment where curriculum-based learning takes place through physical activities, play and games. PLE consist of new kind of playground equipment and technological tools; computer software and digital ready-made game applications. (see http://www.smartus.fi ).
The results of the studies of the project have been reported in book Hyvönen, Kangas, Kultima and Latva (2006) and several other publications (see http://www.ulapland.fi/cmp ). The project yielded four pedagogical models, which can be seen as tools for teachers in their pedagogical thinking and planning as well as in implementing playful learning environments in their daily practices. The main purposes for PLEs in the school context were seen to provide children with more opportunities to learn through play and games and through various physical activities.
Let´s Play was a project partially funded by the European Union, State Provincial Office of Lapland and the Lappset Group Ltd. Its partners were the University of Lapland, VTT Information Technology, the Rovaniemi Polytechnic and Lappset Group Ltd.
Administration and academic community
At the University of Lapland Professor Raimo Rajala was in charge of the project. Professor Heli Ruokamo was one of the research team’s tutors. The research team consisted of project manager, reseacher Pirkko Hyvönen, researcher Marjaana Kangas (Juujärvi) and planning officers Suvi Latva and Annakaisa Kultima. Professors Raimo Rajala, Heli Ruokamo, Kristiina Kumpulainen and Mauri Ylä-Kotola are supervisors of doctoral thesis which still are in progress.