This outdoor play space eschews “playing it safe” by creating unique physical and sensory experiences where children can create, explore, interact, and imagine. The play space’s owner — a small private school, pre-k to 8th grade — believes that restoring unstructured free play to the long days that children spend studying and learning, mostly indoors is vital. The play space has three main areas: the Orange, Brown, and Green zones. The Orange Zone contains an undulating ground and “ribbon” made of two continuous tubes with a net stretched between them culminating in a small amphitheater classroom. The Orange Zone promotes several core attributes of play including: climbing, which supports coordination and power, problem solving, and visualization; overhead play, which increases core body strength, hand-eye coordination, and upper body skills; swinging, which promotes dramatic imagination, cooperation and sharing, and sensory stimulation and stress reduction; and, collaborative space, which provides possibilities for group learning. The Brown Zone contains a sand “loop” with a water table, a climbing dome, trees and woodchips. The Brown Zone promotes attributes of play that instill mathematic concepts in children such as measurement (full/empty, shallow/deep, etc.) and scientific ideas such as tactility, prediction, classification, and experimentation. The Green Zone contains a farm and new grass sports field surrounded by bioswales. The Green Zone promotes attributes of play within a natural setting, which is vital to physical health, emotional wellbeing and a sense of connectedness.
Photos by Michelle Litvin