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Our own nature playspace!

At Mission Hill School in Boston,  Massachusetts, where I teach three and four-year-olds, we are thrilled with the opening of our own new nature playspace. Designed and implemented with a Schoolyard Initiative Grant, we will have our official grand opening in a few weeks – but we are already playing in it.

The other day, as we played, children were jumping from rocks, playing in the water, running along the paths among many new plants (grasses, shrubs, trees and more) and just exploring this new place to play. A visitor to the Boston Public School’s playgroup (which is held in our building) walked by pushing her toddler in a stroller, and asked, “Are you going to build a new playground here?”

“This is our new playground. It is a nature-inspired play space,” I answered. She slowed her pace a bit and gazed at the children and the space…with an utterly confused look upon her face. Yes, our playground looks different from other playgrounds – and we like it that way. This nature play space will inspire many moments of imagination, creativity and discovery – and help us combat what Richard Louv described as Nature-Deficit Disorder in his book Last Child in the Woods.

Here are some typical scenes from our new play space (the names have been changed):

“I’m going to get dirt and rocks and sand,” declares Sasha she worked on building a “worm house”. “The red ants bite but the black ants can’t,” she explains to her friends as they carefully construct the worm house from found objects in our nature play space. “So we can’t go by the red ants.” Nearby, others are stacking pieces of wood for a “campfire”.

A few feet away, Joaquin sees a bee on a purple flower. He calls to me excitedly, “Look! The bee is checking out the butterfly’s flower.” Joaquin is closely investigating the garden area where we released our butterfly a few weeks ago. “Ohhhh!” he gasps.  “It’s so beautiful.”

Every day we are outside for an hour. On our schedule, we call it simply “Outside”. In every way, our outside time is an extension of our inside learning time, as the children play, run and explore. Our children are building so many skills: observing, creating, problem solving, communicating and sharing ideas – along with gross motor skills as they carefully balance and move along the logs and rocks. I can guarantee you will be reading more about our adventures in this new and inspiring space.

 

 

1 comment to Our own nature playspace!

  • This is simply fantastic! I love everything about it and am so happy I happened upon this site. I recently opened a children’s museum in New Market, MD and am eager for spring so my family and I can get started on a play space in our back yard. It’s inspiring to see what you’ve created and I hope to employ a lot of the same concepts. Thank you! Sincerely, Ellen

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