‘When we go outside let’s play with hoops, please!’ Another joined in adding, ‘and snails.’ ‘Well, hoops and snails then.’ It was settled quickly. Our bubble bucket contained the hoops and everyone knew where the snails lived. But as with all 5 to 7 year olds, the activity changed as more children added their ideas and expertise.

Making a pulley

An irresistable tree raised upon a bench you can climb on, provided the starting point for the oldest in the bubble to discuss making something with the hoops and the tree.


‘Throw the rope over the branch and tie the quoit to it.’  This took a few goes before the quoit was secure.

‘Look! We did it!’ ‘But what do we do now?’ The oldest managed to hold each end of the rope and slide another quoit along it. ‘A pulley for a quoit.’ Amazing work.


‘Tie a hoop to it,’ ordered the pulley engineers.  While the older children were occupied with the hard job of tieing everything securely, the youngest took a bean bag and threw it through the hoop. Much joyful screaming as quoits and bean bags were thrown.

‘Let’s hold it higher!’ said the smallest boy who valiently held the hoop on his tiptoes whilst his friends took aim.

And we made a snail home

‘But we must not forget about the snails,’ said a concerned girl. ‘Let’s make them a home.’ Snails were found and placed in a hoop. The group foraged for natural items like acorns, twigs, leaves and sycamore seeds.

‘We got to decorate their home.’ ‘Do you think they are hungry?’ ‘Shall we find some leaves?’

Listening to the conversation was insightful. Only kindness and thoughtfulness was seen here as the small group considered snail welfare and happiness.

The group soon included eleven children, sharing ideas and knowledge of what snails would like. At one point the snails became active and crawled over the hoop. ‘A race!’ This delighted everyone.

This play ran on for at least thrity minutes because we had the time and the luxury of an area for our bubble group only. We could leave items out and return later in the day if we wanted to.

Eventually two homes were created with twig bridges to help the snails across.

Hoops and snails

Two very different games were created with these few items. One demanded imagination, physical action and teamwork to construct a pulley. The second offered an opportunity to discuss emotions, talk about homelife and be kind towards the natural world. Both were needed and we did not interfere with their choices. We were really fortunate to have the time to do this.