Drew Model School




EarlySpace designed a courtyard to support all facets of literacy learning in a lush, rich and complex natural setting. There are areas for small and large group gatherings as well as intimate spaces for individual reading and quiet activity. Located outside the school library, the space surrounds children with nature in a whimsical, inspiring, print-rich environment.

One of two large gathering areas features a magical storyteller‘s chair and a ring of benches focused on a water circle, which evokes the sense of sitting around a campfire and listening to stories. A word walk with literary and grammatical terms engraved into the paving and a rustic bridge over the River of Words dry streambed with moveable engraved rocks draw children into the more private spaces, which include a
circular bench under a dogwood tree and bench swings facing Dragon Head Falls (the water source for the River of Words) named for the school’s mascot. Vertical chalkboard and magnetic work surfaces inspire creative compositions. A whimsical vine covered bower sparks imaginations and improvised storytelling. Mysterious quotes painted around the upper perimeter of the courtyard walls describe famous dragons in children‘s literature. While they may not know the source immediately, as they read throughout their childhoods they may come upon a familiar phrase and recognize it as one from their Reading Garden at Drew.

Courtyard plantings include a variety of native, fragrant, colorful shrubs, vines, perennials and groundcovers with a plant for each letter of the
alphabet. Every species is labeled with stories, uses, and scientific facts.

I was absolutely floored at what a beautiful space it now is. The concept, design, lay out, the peacefulness. I love, love, love the curved bridge, the fountain and winding creek, the design …it just took my breath away.

Get our free guide:

Eight Essential Elements of Nature Play Spaces along with "nature Play News", our quarterly newsletter!