School Grounds TRAnSfoRmAtiOn  
  Back to Resources  


Back Forward


THE VIDEO: 19:20 Minutes

Asking Children, Listening to Children VideoThe video was produced by Ann Coffey, coordinator of CBI's SGT programme. The video demonstrates the value of involving children of all ages in redesigning their schoolyards.

The first part of the video shows you what children at an urban school in Ottawa had to say about their schoolyard during class-by-class brainstorming sessions held at their school at the start of their school grounds transformation project.

The second part takes place in a transformed schoolyard where a group of children and their principal comment on their three-year project to change their 100% asphalt yard into living places for socializing, playing and learning. Children speak about how being consulted and listened to by adults made them feel proud, respected and valued.

The video clearly shows the benefits of asking children for their ideas and opinions and involving them in decision-making at the outset of the project. The whole process of making left grow and flourish where only asphalt existed before is one that transforms both school grounds and the behaviour and attitudes of the children who spend so much time in their outdoor school environments.

THE BOOK: Full Colour

Asking Children, Listening to Children BookThis guide to consulting with students, Asking Children, Listening to Children, is designed to accompany the video of the same name to help schools organize and conduct class-by-class brainstorming sessions with all the children in the school at the start of their school grounds transformation projects.

Ann Coffey, coordinator of the Canadian Biodiversity Institute's School Grounds Transformation Programme, has led hundreds of class-by-class sessions in elementary and secondary schools and asked thousands of students for their opinions and ideas about their outdoor school environments. She has also trained many school councils' grounds greening teams to conduct their own consultations with students, teachers, parents and neighbours.

The video shows you what to expect from children when adults are prepared to relinquish control and consult with them. The book explains the benefits of involving children from the outset of school grounds projects, helps you plan your consultations, gives you useful tips on how to question children and show them that you are listening to their answers, and suggests ways to integrate people and site surveys into the curriculum.

[ Back to top ]



School Grounds in a BoxThis step-by-step instructional guide shows schools how they can redesign their own school grounds by building a model.

The model featured in this book was built for our hands-on school grounds design workshops to demonstrate how information gathered during people, site and site-use surveys can be used to create a three-dimensional plan. The model has become one of our most valuable teaching tools because it makes planning make sense for school greening groups.

If your planning team is having trouble knowing how to get started and feeling intimidated by the site plan and the number of things that must be taken into consideration when planning, why not make a large walk-in floor model?

Most people are visual learners and often have trouble visualizing what a two-dimensional drawing will look like when transformed into reality on the school grounds. Making a model will help you build your vision, and understand everything from general planning principles to specific site constraints and safety issues. It will also help you manage and store information about your site and keep everyone `on the same page' when planning.

[ Back to top ]

SPECIAL PLACES, SPECIAL PEOPLE: The hidden curriculum of school grounds

by Wendy Titman


Special Places, Special People

This excellent school grounds resource is now, unfortunately, out of print. The Canadian Biodiversity Institute purchased some of the last remaining copies for one of our projects. We have a few copies left which we are now offering at a reduced rate.

This book is the result of a research project in Britain which took almost three years to complete. It examines the way that the design of school grounds influences children's behaviour. It is a useful working manual designed to assist schools and communities in the management of schools and their grounds.

The book is divided into four sections. Section One outlines the background of the research project with a short review of previous research. Section Two presents research gathered about children's perceptions, together with a summary of the main findings. Section Three discusses the key issues that arose and what major implications they will have for all schools, along with suggestions for changing how school grounds are designed and used. Section Four contains an alphabetical list of references and other resources. This 140-page book includes full colour photographs, case studies, suggested activities, and side bars with quotes from children and others.

[ Back to top ]


BOOK A Guide to Transforming School Grounds $ 29.95 CDN
VIDEO Asking Children Listening to Children $ 20.00 CDN
BOOK Asking Children Listening to Children $ 18.00 CDN
BOOK School Grounds in a Box $ 18.00 CDN
BOOK Special Places, Special People $ 35.00 CDN

One book (A Guide to Transforming School Grounds) $ 12.00 CDN
One set of Asking Children Listening to Children (one video and one book) $ 8.00 CDN
Each additional set mailed in the same package $ 8.00 CDN
One book (Asking Children Listening to Children or School Grounds in a Box) $ 5.00 CDN
One book (Special Places, Special People) $ 8.00 CDN
Each additional book up to four books mailed in the same package $ 1.50 CDN

Click here for the order form (PDF format). PDF icon

For larger orders, please contact Ann Coffey by phone at (613) 746-8668 or by e-mail at

Sponsored by The Ontario Trillium Foundation
The Canadian Biodiversity Institute wishes to thank the Ontario Trillium Foundation for their sponsorship of these school grounds resources.

[ Back to top ]