Category Archives: Dartmouth Playgrounds

Swinging with The Brachiator

It’s within the last year that our Nellie-Rose has taken the monkey bars by storm. Our daughter is a wiry, wisp of a girl. She is determined, fierce in her pursuit of mastering new skills and can draw on a deep reservoir of bravery.

A couple of months before her 5th birthday she came down with monkey bars fever. Since then, when she arrives at a playground she transforms into The Brachiator. Her first order of business is to cast her eyes around to see what climbing fare is on offer and then to jump up and get swinging.

Dangling a couple of feet above the ground, Nellie-Rose maintains her practiced grip until she creates sufficient forward momentum with her lower body to release the grip with one of her hands to grab the next rung. She’s got it down to a science now and is capable of navigating every monkey bar obstacle course we’ve come across in our travels.

Let’s be clear, not all monkey bars are created equal. There are ring and triangle grips suspended on chain links, circular hoops, ascending and descending tracks, domes and any number of other variations.

DSC04014Bois Jois Playground, Dartmouth

Nellie-Rose does have some favourites – Bois Joli and South Woodside Elementary School in Dartmouth and what we call the Fire Truck playground in Cole Harbour. There’s also a set she’s discovered through big brother Noah’s soccer at Bel Air Elementary School. She was very proud and pleased to take grand-maman and grand-papa there to demonstrate her prowess during a recent visit they made from Quebec.

Mastering this kind of equipment at an early age gives kids a chance to assess their own abilities, get comfortable with risk and celebrate their achievements. Now I do admit that when she took her first tentative monkey bar sorties at the tail end of 3, I was in helicopter mode. I’ve left that far behind and now trust Nellie’s confidence and ability to carry the day.

Fire TruckEarly days, hanging on – The Fire Truck Playground, Cole Harbour (Auburn John Stuart Community Park Playground)

Check out Halifax Plays FB for a photo Gallery of local monkey bars. If you’ve come across any funky monkey bars either here or away, send pics with information on the location. We’ll share them with our readers here or on FB.

soccerTraining for the Junior Olympics Free-style Monkey Bars event at Bel Air Elementary School Playground, Dartmouth

Ok folks, swing you later….

Shout Outs and Halifax Plays Does Facebook

In June and July, play got some nice pick up in Halifax from mainstream media, bloggers and community news vehicles. It’s a real pleasure to see these individuals and organizations writing and broadcasting about the importance of play. Some of the activity was linked to the two-part Where Has All the Playing Gone? series hosted by the Alderney Landing Library – a joint Halifax Plays – PlayGroundology project.

Sliding downMe goofing for the camera at the Submarine Playground. Photo credit – Vincenzo Ravina

So shout outs to CBC Mainstreet, CBC TV News, Global TV Morning News, Community Herald (Bedford, Dartmouth, Halifax), outside the circle. Thanks also to bloggers Lisa Spinney-Hutton for her post in The Green Phone Booth! and Michael Cusden for his blogpost on 10 Of The Best Playgrounds Halifax Has To Offer.

Thanks again also to Rachel Hawkes Cameron, Sarah MacKeigan, Bridget Quigley and Sue Sirrs who shared their experience and expertise in the world of playgrounds and play in our Playground People Panel. Each of them were passionate, knowledgeable and full of stories. If there are any child care, parent-teacher, community groups, or others interested in a 1 hour presentation – discussion on playgrounds and play pop me an email and we’ll see what we can organize.

Halifax Plays has opened two new channels, a Facebook Page and twitter. Give them a whirl when you have a moment. I’m always looking for good images for the Facebook Page and inspiring stories about play to share on Facebook, twitter and the blog.

Here are a couple of our more recent play moments in Dartmouth. Whoever first identifies both locations gets a free Lotto 649 ticket. There’s always that off chance that it could be a winner :-)

DSC00717Nellie has just recently started to flex her jumping muscles. She’s pushing to go a little higher each time…

This has been a great week for getting to the beach and into the water for a cool off. We like to get out early in the morning before the arrival of the madding crowds.

DSC00616Our gang of three doing their engineer impersonations as they let loose a raging torrent.

Keep active, see you at the playground.

Down by the Bridge – Playground Creation Myth

There they are – three primary colour figures with arms upstretched holding the universe aloft. On top the trickster is coiled ready to pounce. Pause for a langourous smile here if you feel the back-bowed metal figure is ironic on its precarious perch not quite a poster child for stringent safety standards.

DSC06711The Playground Creation Myth

This small playground is tucked away behind a residential building close by the intersection of Green Road and Nova Court just a couple of blocks away from the Angus L. MacDonald bridge. There’s a McDonald’s down the street. If you’ve taken the kids there for some grub, do everyone a favour and hightail it over to the outdoor playground to work off some of the caloric intake from the fast food fix.

Just so you know, I’m packing too much weight and trying to shed about 40 pounds. I occasionally go to McD for comfort food when I’m on the road or have to get in to work extra early. When we travel long distance with the kids, fast food becomes the path of least resistance. Up to about 45, my metabolism took care of just about everything – no appreciable weight gain no matter my intake. Now I’ve got to try and reverse the pouindage creep from the last 10 years.

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I pulled over here with older daughter Alexa, the best photographer our family has ever seen, one late March afternoon. NOTE – these photos are not hers and clearly my genes have had no bearing on her photographic ability.

DSC06716

Just coming back into the city, or on the way out and gotta have a playground moment or two? This could be your spot to climb, slide, swing and springride not to mention the possibility of taking a little red jeep for a cruise. More photos here.

Let me know if you’ve seen those mythic primary colour men anywhere else in your playground travels.

Happy Canada Day….

Brownlow Playground Is a Sweet Summer Treat

If your kids are Bob the Builder fans, or love the construct – destruct continuum then Brownlow Park Playground (map – pink marker) is your kind of place. For a limited time, there’s an added attraction here.

The old Penhorn Mall is being demolished, torn asunder – a 21st century retail demoreno. Mall Makeovers – is there a reality show waiting in the wings? Piles of rubble, exposed girders and segments of wall are on display for the curious. Fencing around the perimeter of the site ensures that no small ones can slip in.

Brownlow Park is a playground for all ages (photos). Little Tikes equipment for the smallest of the small is well located in the centre of the play area about as far away from traffic as possible. It’s the standard climb up, wave to mama and papa, slide down and start all over again set up.

On the north and east flanks are the swings – two for the bigger kids and four for the babies. Baby swings fully subscribed? Don’t worry if it’s a heavy traffic area there are always the big blue whales ready for a swim on either side.

Then there’s the raised plastic pipe, the balance beam with the pressure bandage that doubles as a ‘you’re so far away’ teeter-totter. Nellie and Noah love to try their luck on this, slowly gliding from one end to the other without tumbling after a misstep. Concentration wins the day. They do a little teeter up totter down but it really doesn’t hold a candle to the daring, wobbly, one step at a time, incredible raised from the ground feat.

The center piece for the older kids is the perpetual climb – the up down, across and back again. How many ways cay you hang, swing, straddle and sit. Is it a composite sculpture, a spaceship, an incredible fitness machine, or maybe all of these and more?


This is where you can shimmy, recline, haul yourself up, dangle in the air. It’s a potpouuri of resisting gravity – stay up, stay up, don’t fall.

There’s a little knoll on the north side of the park with some shade trees. Others are parsed out throughout the park. Parking is available on both streets that border the park. If you feel like tennis, there’s a couple of courts here too.

Yes and there are major size rocks to jump from and a fine climbing tree too.

Get out, get active, explore the city and enjoy HRM’s 300 plus playgrounds.

Shannon Park School Playground – Dartmouth

Shannon Park School has two well equipped playgrounds to discover tucked away in Dartmouth’s north end (map). It’s a rare sunny July afternoon when nearly 6-year-old lad in company with nearly 2-year-old girl and I drop in for a play about. Nearly 4-year-old girl is at a birthday party a few blocks away and is a little chagrined that she can’t join the adventure.

Visually, it’s an area in transition with the candy striped Tufts Cove stacks rising to the south. Across Sioux Rd., on the opposite side of the playground located on the west side of the school, are boarded up former Canadian Forces housing units waiting for the wrecker’s ball, for some eventual redevelopment.

The playgrounds (photos) are well maintained and we have a barrel of fun time under the hot sun doing the climbing, sliding, jumping, stretching, swinging, laughing, try it once, try it twice, new place thing. Lila gets in plenty of tongue sticking out practice on the bouncy bridge – note, some caution is necessary with this contraption for younger ones – we had our share of kerplunks.

Noah is back and forth on the ding-dong pendulum walk. He’s got it nailed now, sailing across with the greatest of ease.

Noah is being a helpful big brother with little sis, taking her by the hand when she’ll accept and showing her the ropes on some of the equipment. He’s there for her, mother henning on occasion – it’s sweet to see. He gets a real big kick out of giving Lila her first pushes on a big swing – a big hit for all of us.

The two playgrounds are on the north and west sides of the school. They’re close together but one isn’t visible from the other. It’s a good locale to experiment with a little independence – where mom and/or dad can be out of sight but not really too far away. There is fencing that skirts the northern and western perimeters of the playground areas.

Plenty of parking here, both on school property and Sioux Rd. There isn’t much shade and on a hot day like our romp, this can be an issue. Escape from the sun is possible under the three-lane slide. On the south side of the school there are expansive playing fields, the venue for the Dartmouth United Soccer Fest for the past several years. If you’re heading to that event for the first time with other non-soccer player kids in tow – remember there is a playground for them to have some fun.

Get out, get active, explore the city and enjoy HRM’s 300 plus playgrounds.