planning a natural playground

by Bernie DeKoven on August 8, 2012

A recent post in the Playscapes weblog offers a detailed description of the plans and costs for creating the Brock Elementary School Natural Playscape.

Reportedly, it cost less than $9,000 to build the playground. Seems to me like a genuine bargain, especially given the quality of the play experience, and the natural beauty such a playground offers.

Playscapes includes a little quote that reflects, almost as well as the photographs, on what such an environment provides:

“As the garden has grown over the last two years, its play value has increased. Kids play hide and seek inside mature native shrubs, dig holes to compost their recess snacks and use the boulders and logs to play games. One of the wonderful things that has been observed in the garden is that kids of all ages play together and often choose to play in this space rather than on nearby equipment.”

It astounds me that such things as natural playgrounds are controversial. Almost as much as the comparative sterility of the commercial, concrete and plastic playgrounds that communities are paying so much more to install.


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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Elaine Bawden August 8, 2012 at 10:36 am

I so love these natural playground spaces. I took my grandson to one often and he named it The Rock and Log Park. He would test the playground equipment for a bit then play the rest of his time in the natural area. Elaine

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Lily August 9, 2012 at 9:55 am

When I was a kid, we had a natural area outside our school. Of course that’s when each classroom had a wall full of windows too, but that’s another issue. Anyway, it was a square area edged by lilac bushes (not really full grown trees), with a few elm or maple trees in the corners. There was a row of lilacs down the middle as well. There were openings along the edge to enter. There was always shade in there for when we were hot, and there were openings through the middle as well. I’m sure it made supervision difficult, but we had a lot of fun in there. Like our own little “enchanted forest”. We would bring books out to read in the shady corners, or play jacks (yes, we actually played jacks LOL), or other little games. I would see kids now-a-days trading bakuman cards or something along those lines. We would climb the elm trees (even though our teachers told us not to, and that it would wreck the trees, and even though 2 broken arms were achieved through that behavior). I had my first “wedding” in that little area, marrying my childhood sweetheart dressed in my mother’s curtains. It was a sad, sad day when they took that area out when they were doing reno’s. Mom (a teacher there at the time) said she fought for them to keep it, but with safety concerns etc… it was a battle lost from the start. Of course, that was in the day that lego was banned from 6yo’s because it was a “choking hazard” and bar soap was banned from the washroom for being “unsanitary”. Safety, yeesh.

I’m glad there is beginning to be a push back to have natural play places for kids. They need it.

Love and laughter,
Lily

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Natalie Kinsey August 9, 2012 at 4:17 pm

When I think of combining the idea of a natural playground with the wisdom art play of one of my favorite artists, Andy Goldworthy http://www.ucblueash.edu/artcomm/web/w2005_2006/maria_Goldsworthy/works.html
my head kind of catches a proper fire.

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Bernie DeKoven August 9, 2012 at 5:36 pm

What a great idea, Nat!

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