How it all began.
Back in early 2017, we had two gardens for our kindergarten and older 4’s classes. We felt that the whole school could benefit from these gardens and began planning for further use of the space. These ideas grew to a larger vision of more imaginative outdoor play and the pre-work on our natural playground began. The first piece of equipment, a mud kitchen, was installed in September 2018. The natural playground has grown since then to include a variety of equipment including climbing structures, picnic tables, tree stumps, a slide, and more.
Why a natural playground?
The whole idea started as we noticed less opportunities for families to have their children explore and play in a natural environment. We wanted to make sure that our children had opportunities to enjoy the benefits of outdoor free play. The world has changed so much and, for some, electronics have replaced much free-play. There is great value in creative and imaginative free play offered through the natural playground.
There has been much research about emotional health benefits through adulthood because of an increase of outdoor play. This research guided us as we planned for this space. Spiritual, physical, intellectual, emotional, and cognitive development are five learning domains engaged in our natural playground schoolwide. It’s a place where a child is free to be a child.
Andrea, NDS Director