Benching Playground Loneliness: Exploring the Meanings of the Playground Buddy Bench Exploring the Meanings of the Playground Buddy Bench

Main Article Content

Katherine Maureen Clarke


The buddy bench, a primary school playground implementation designed to eliminate playground loneliness, provides a potential strategy to ensure more children reap the positive benefits of elementary school recess.  Through children’s artwork, in-depth interviews, and playground observation this ethnographic study explores the socially constructed meanings of the buddy bench and their implications.  Findings show children’s shared meanings of solidarity, inherent worth, empowerment, and a shift in focus from playground bullies to buddies leads to a perceived climate change on the playground.  These shared meanings reshape children’s narratives about themselves, loneliness, and the playground experience in a positive manner.  This study’s methodology advances the communication field by demonstrating how scholars can use children’s artwork to identify and define children’s socially constructed meanings.



Download data is not yet available.

Article Details

How to Cite
CLARKE, Katherine Maureen. Benching Playground Loneliness: Exploring the Meanings of the Playground Buddy Bench. International Electronic Journal of Elementary Education, [S.l.], v. 11, n. 1, p. 9-21, sep. 2018. ISSN 1307-9298. Available at: <>. Date accessed: 21 july 2019.



Adler, J. M., Turner, A. F., Brookshier, K. M., Monahan, C., Walder-Biesanz, I., Harmeling, L.
H., ... & Oltmanns, T. F. (2015). Variation in narrative identity is associated with trajectories of mental health over several years. Journal of personality and social psychology, 108(3), 476.
Arthur, L. (2004). Looking out for each other: Children helping left‐out children. Support for
Learning, 19(1), 5-12.
Ashiabi, G. S. (2007). Play in the preschool classroom: Its socio-emotional significance and the
teacher’s role in play. Early Childhood Education Journal, 35(2), 199-207.
Barthes, R. (1964). Elements of semiology. New York: HILL and WANG.
Batu, B. (2012). An Overview of the Field of Semiotics. Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences, 51, 464-469.
Barros, R. M., Silver, E. J., & Stein, R. E. (2009). School recess and group classroom behavior. Pediatrics, 123(2), 431-436.
Berger, P., & Luckmann, T. (1966). The social construction of knowledge: A treatise in the sociology of knowledge. NY: Doubleday.
Blasi, M., Hurwitz, S. C., & Hurwitz, S. C. (2002). For Parents Particularly: To Be Successful—Let Them Play!. Childhood Education, 79(2), 101-102.
Bowen, G. A. (2008). Naturalistic inquiry and the saturation concept: a research note. Qualitative research, 8(1), 137-152.
Ginsburg, K. R. (2007). The importance of play in promoting healthy child development and maintaining strong parent-child bonds. Pediatrics, 119(1), 182-191.
Grant, A., & Dutton, J. (2012). Beneficiary or benefactor: Are people more prosocial when they reflect on receiving or giving? Psychological science,23(9), 1033-1039.
Griffin Jr, A. A., Caldarella, P., Sabey, C. V., & Heath, M. A. (2017). The effects of a buddy bench on elementary students' solitary behavior during recess. International Electronic Journal of Elementary Education, 10(1), 27-36.
Jacob, E. (1987). Qualitative research traditions: A review. Review of educational research, 57(1), 1-50.
Jarrett, O. S., Maxwell, D. M., Dickerson, C., Hoge, P., Davies, G., & Yetley, A. (1998). Impact of recess on classroom behavior: group effects and individual differences. The Journal of educational research, 92(2), 121-126.
Kamenetz, A. (2016, July 5). How To Raise Brilliant Children, According To Science. Retrieved July 10, 2016, from
Merriam, S. B. (1988). Case study research in education: A qualitative approach. Jossey-Bass.
McAdams, D. P., & Guo, J. (2015). Narrating the generative life. Psychological Science, 26(4),
475-483. doi:10.1177/0956797614568318
McAdams, D. P., Reynolds, J., Lewis, M., Patten, A. H., & Bowman, P. J. (2001). When bad
things turn good and good things turn bad: Sequences of redemption and contamination in life narrative and their relation to psychosocial adaptation in midlife adults and in students. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 27(4), 474-485. doi:10.1177/0146167201274008
McNiff, S. (1976). Art, artists and psychotherapy: A conversation with Robert Coles. Art Psychotherapy, 3(3), 115-133.
O'Connell, P. M. (2013, January). Give Them A Break; AAP policy touts physical, mental, social benefits of recess. AAP News, 34(1). Retrieved July 12, 2016, from
Oster, G. D., & Crone, P. G. (2004). Using drawings in assessment and therapy: A guide for mental health professionals. Psychology Press.
Peirce. C. P. (1965). Basic Concepts of Peircean Sign Theory. In Gottdiener, M., Boklund-Lagopoulou, K. & Lagopoulos, A.P. (Eds.) (2003). Semiotics. London: Sage Publications.
Pellegrini, A. D. (2008). The Recess Debate: A Disjuncture between Educational Policy and Scientific Research. American Journal of Play, 1(2), 181-191.
Pellegrini, A. D., Blatchford, P., Kato, K., & Baines, E. (2004). A Short‐term Longitudinal Study of Children's Playground Games in Primary School: Implications for Adjustment to School and Social Adjustment in the USA and the UK. Social Development, 13(1), 107-123.
Pellegrini, A. D., & Bohn, C. M. (2005). The role of recess in children's cognitive performance and school adjustment. Educational Researcher, 34(1), 13-19.
Pellegrini, A. D., & Galda, L. (1993). Ten years after: A reexamination of symbolic play and literacy research. Reading Research Quarterly, 163-175.
Pellegrini, A. D., Huberty, P. D., & Jones, I. (1995). The effects of recess timing on children’s playground and classroom behaviors. American Educational Research Journal, 32(4), 845-864.
Pellegrini, A. D., & Long, J. D. (2002). A longitudinal study of bullying, dominance, and victimization during the transition from primary school through secondary school. British journal of developmental psychology, 20(2), 259-280.
Ramstetter, C. L., Murray, R., & Garner, A. S. (2010). The crucial role of recess in schools. Journal of School Health, 80(11), 517-526.
Reed, J. A., Einstein, G., Hahn, E., Hooker, S. P., Gross, V. P., & Kravitz, J. (2010). Examining the impact of integrating physical activity on fluid intelligence and academic performance in an elementary school setting: a preliminary investigation. Journal of physical activity & health, 7(3), 343.
Rönnlund, M. (2015). Schoolyard stories: Processes of gender identity in a ‘children’s place’. Childhood, 22(1), 85-100.
Rosenthal, R., &. Jacobson, L. (1963). Teachers' expectancies: Determinants of pupils' IQ gains. Psychological Reports, 19, 115-118.
Scarlett, H. H., Press, A. N., & Crockett, W. H. (1971). Children's descriptions of peers: A Wernerian developmental analysis. Child development, 439-453.
Skelton, C., & Francis, B. (2003). Boys and girls in the primary classroom. McGraw-Hill Education (UK).
Stellino, M. B., & Sinclair, C. D. (2008). Intrinsically motivated, free-time physical activity: considerations for recess. Journal of Physical Education, Recreation & Dance, 79(4), 37-40.
Thompson, M., O’Neill, & Cohen, L. J. (2001). Best friends, worst enemies: Understanding the social lives of children. Random House Digital, Inc.
Werner, H. (1967). the concept of development from a comparative and organismic point of view. (N - New ed., pp. 125) University of Minnesota Press.
Wolke, D., Woods, S., Stanford, K., & Schulz, H. (2001). Bullying and victimization of primary school children in England and Germany: Prevalence and school factors. British Journal of Psychology, 92(4), 673-696.
Yin, R. K. (2003). Case study research design and methods third edition. Applied social research methods series, p. 5.