a renovation connects inside and out
Following a renovation indoors and out, children, teachers, families, and visitors are welcomed to this natural play space from the thoughtfully designed lobby, where a wall of windows brings the sights and sounds of the outdoors in, and gives children a preview of the space before they enter the playground.
An entry ramp with handrails embellished with a ball roll tube, chimes, and other interactive and touchable accessories ends at a concrete spiral, which connects to the multi-textured loop path that connects and organizes the space. The accessible path includes sections of crunchy stone dust, brick, river rock, steppers, and concrete embossed with leaf prints as well as a bridge over the play stream. Walking, running, or riding over this variety of textures provides a range of tactile and auditory experiences.
In the center of the circular path and directly across from the windows is an open space and a long berm which provides a high vantage point for surveying the space and a focal point for several activities. The berm includes an embankment slide, embedded climbing boulders and a stump scramble. A sculptural fallen tree — nicknamed “the butterfly” by the children — provides a varied and adventurous place for natural climbing, scooting and balancing. Low logs set into the east end of the berm can be used as steps or as amphitheater seating.
Children build and pretend using the skeleton frames and storage bins filled with loose parts like sticks, tree cookies, pinecones, shells, boards, crates, blankets, straw bales, stones, and bricks. Loose parts to manipulate allow children to feel a sense of ownership and control over the space as they build.
A large sand area allows digging and engineering, along with a playhouse with a mailbox and a whisper-phone connecting to a different part of the space, a log table for pretending, and a mud kitchen where children can create sand, water, and mud recipes that will incorporate imaginary and sensory play with literacy. A hand pump, located on the adjacent berm, supplies water for a mosaic stream lined with river rocks and flat stones that flows down the hill, under the bridge, and into the sand area. Adjacent to the sand area are cabinets for conveniently storing related materials. The sand area is edged with natural logs and boulders and pickable plants to enhance sand and water play.
This space provides the children, families and teachers with engaging invitations to move, explore, imagine, create, connect, and thrive in the out-of-doors.
“On the new playground, the children are busy. Every single child is busy and completely engaged in something. They are using their senses and their imaginations and their muscles in so many interesting ways… The space is so open-ended, with limitless possibilities.”