Kids love to play on and with rocks, boulders, fallen logs and tree stumps.A simple arrangement of rocks and logs and earthworks has a high play value and can be vastly less expensive than the pipe-rail and plastic structures too common in the municipal landscape. I would very much like to see us get away from the idea that a playground has to cost alot of money. - Playscapes
As part of our series on how to create irresistible play spaces for children, lets look at how easy and inexpensive it is to add natural elements to your own play space to create a rich learning environment and a place of aesthetic beauty that helps to connect children to the natural world.
1. Tree Cookies
We love our tree cookies. They are easy to move around and to use in different ways: to create paths, define or enclose a space, to sit on, to use as a play surface, to add to an obstacle course or in a sandpit:
Open ended and easy for kids to move, tree cookies lend themselves easily to creative and imaginative play. One minute they are a seat or table, the next a part of a train, and then a tower:
Adding natural elements to a playspace that kids can move around: gravel, mulch, tree biscuits and stones can give children a real sense of empowerment within the environment.
Stumps are also very versatile within a play space, and if you are nice to your local landscape supplier they may even be free! Stumps enclosing a sandpit can also be incorporated into a child's play or used for seating:
Image: Teacher Tom
Or used to define a small area they create an inviting and intimate space for play:
Image: Playscapes3. Rocks
They can be incorporated really easily into garden beds:
Children sit on them, crawl over them, incorporate them into their cubbies and imaginative play and learn from their permanence in the natural landscape:
You can source logs from your local council or landscape supplier. Try to find a variety of sizes: some to balance on, some to move around or some as interesting design features. You will be surprised just how much play value you get from a humble log: they become balance beams, climbing frames, dinosaurs, airplanes, serpents, trains…anything the children can imagine.
I'm really being inspired by the work going on at this Australian preschool in their Hush Garden. Sherry, Donna and the children have added rocks, plants, logs and stumps to wonderful effect:
Mounds and bumps help to create spaces to climb to, to look out from, to roll down, to mount slides into and grow plants on.
Giving you any ideas? These images helped me to realise that with a little imagination and some sweet talking with local gardeners, carpenters, and nurseries you can make a big difference to a play space for very little outlay.
Read the Full SeriesThis post is a part of a series on how to create irresistible outdoor playspaces for children. You can start reading this series here. I hope you enjoy it and feel free to share ideas that have inspired or worked for you in the comments section
Tomorrow: Just add places to pause, places to hide, places to rest