Monday, 20 September 2010

What would you do with this space?

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mamatoelijah said...

tree stumps, they can form circles for story times, work together as balance beams and in general are aesthetically appealing as well. I also load up my car when I see one being cut down.
Plus palm tree stumps if you can find them are great for hammering nails into and kids love that.

Amy D said...

There are tons of ways you can incorporate nature play into a space at little cost! Loose parts areas--as you already mentioned--are one of my personal favorites, particularly in regards to outdoor areas, because loose parts offer such a wealth of play opportunities to children, and natural loose parts are everywhere: stumps, leaves, stones, branches, flowers, plants, dirt. Vegetable gardens or sensory gardens are also wonderful ways to encourage nature play and develop an outdoor area, too.

KaBOOM!, the nonprofit for which I work, offers a free webinar on the benefits of nature play that deals not only with developmental benefits--in which you all are probably well-versed, given that it's an outdoor education organization--but also with ways to incorporate natural elements into a playspace by focusing on creative pathways, the senses, natural boundaries, etc. You can check it out here:

I'd recommend visiting Greenhearts Inc which offers many resources, including a downloadable booklet entitled 25 Easy Nature Play Ideas for Early Childhood Centers at Similarly, the Children and Nature Network is a comprehensive resource for research, ideas, and activities.

Nate said...

I'd imagine that you could find a company to donate either the machinery and labor or at least one of them, to removing those concrete slabs and installing drainage rock/culverts to move the water away from the play area. It's incredible what companies are willing to do if you explain your story and make the ask. I have found that reaching out and making the ask can be the hardest part, but that it often pays off. Don't know who to ask or have no connections? I'd recommend you hold an asset mapping activity with all the adults you can get. Start by having each think about a person they know (a friend, a neighbor, a relative, etc) that works, or has connections to, an industry that can help out with the project you're working on. Compile all of the connections and ideas and then start soliciting them for in-kind donations or machinery, goods, or volunteer time. It's incredible what you can find in your community.

I would love to see a sensory garden in this area, and maybe even a nature playground that incorporates the natural elements that exist along with some movement of earth to create divots and hills within the space that the children could play on. Drainage will be key, but with the right people on board this could be an amazing space!

Juliet Robertson said...

Thanks for all your comments (and to everyone who tweeted suggestions or put them on the Creative STAR facebook page or my profile page)

I think opportunities for using real tools is a super idea and stumps do work well for this.

Most of the suggestions I put to this centre were along nature play ideas. The sensory garden and veg patch are a great idea - whether the centre staff can get organised around the maintenance and management of this sort of resource would be an interesting challenge for the adventure activity instructors! But visiting children could do this as part of an environmental stewardship activity .

Amy - thanks for the links - I'm wondering if you have any specifc advice about inserting boulders into play areas?

Nate - sensible idea about the volunteers and asset mapping (when working with schools, I take this a step further and suggest asking about all hobbies as sometimes these link up really well too).

One way to assist drainage is to plant willow and alder. The willow can be used decoratively as screening and zoning and for dens and tunnels. If the paths have drainage this will make a difference too.

Many thanks once again