From Blank Slate to Lush baby garden




Briya Public Charter School is a unique, two-generational multi-cultural program that serves both young children and their parents with education and health care services. The nature play space at this site is in the three-sided courtyard of a building built to house Briya, another school, and Mary’s Center, an on-site medical clinic.

The outdoor space — designed for babies, toddlers, and occasional preschoolers — provides a balance of active and quiet play, places to move, and places to watch or rest and relax, places for a group to gather and places just big enough for one or two children.

There are a variety of active play elements – a sand pit shaded with a fabric sail allows for deep digging, pretending, and engineering play. A sand wall and stump tables provide both horizontal and vertical work surfaces for a variety of motor experiences within the sand play area. A stilt walk offers climbing, balancing, and stretching for older toddlers. A constructed hill with a stump scramble and a slide offers a variety of ways to ascend and descend, plus the opportunity for children to view the space from a new perspective when atop the hill.

The textured trike track decorated with leaf prints, gems, and river rocks meanders the length of the space. The track has turnarounds at each end, with one encircling an island with a tripod frame. The posts are planted with vines and embellished with yarn and other decorations to provide a cozy, enclosed spot for hiding and pretending.

Child-friendly native plantings provide shade, seasonal color, textural variety, and fragrance. Herbs provide fragrance and opportunities to taste. Surfacing in the space encompasses a variety of textures and includes grass, sand, wood chips, concrete with embedded textures, and the wooden bridge. There are elements to stimulate all of the senses and elements to enhance the weather, shadows, and seasons.

Get our free guide:

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