Thursday, April 8, 2010

dry creek beds in a preschool playscape

If you'd told me that one day I would dream of having a dry creek bed I would have said you had rocks in your head.

But dream I do: visions of a dry creek bed meandering down the slope at preschool just waiting for the kids to explore, imagine and create.

I'd like to share the dream and open up my inspiration file of dry creek bed pictures because it seems I'm not the only one with dry creek beds on my mind.

Squiggle Mum wants one in her backyard:
dry creek bed – yes, I’m serious. I’d love a rocky narrow “creek” running down the hill. It will only run in pouring rain, but that’s fine with me!
And Sherry and Donna from Irresistible Ideas for Play Based Learning are ready to create one at preschool:
Okay it won't flow with water like your creek (unless the rains come of course) but a dry creek bed will still be awesome! We're so excited that we spent several hours yesterday sourcing suitable plants, rocks and pebbles for the project.
Who can blame them?  If you watched kids play outdoors for a while to see what interested them or sustained their play chances are the answer would be:
  • sand
  • mud
  • water
  • rocks
  • sticks, leaves, seeds
  • bugs
  • logs
  • plants / gardening
A dry creek bed can bring all these natural elements to your backyard or playground in one irresistible package.

So ladies, and anyone else who would like to share the dream, here is some inspiration for you:

This one has a water source from a water tank:

So there is the opportunity for water play, even if it hasn't been raining:

Natural slopes work really well with dry creek beds:

Can't you just picture what the kids could do with dump trucks; shovels; containers; dinosaurs; insects....

I also dream of a water pump:

They are relatively inexpensive, seemingly easy to install (have a look here and here) and with endless opportunities to let the children play!

(images from Tessa Rose Landscape Design)


  1. Oh thank you, thank you! A post full of dry creek bed ideas just for me!! You've made my day.

  2. we have one! well, not us really, but in our neighborhood there are some rocks on a hill for drainage purposes, i think! anyway, all the kids in the neighborhood are attracted to them!

  3. Oooohhh jenny i'm shivering with excitement. All systems are go! ... We have the rocks - check .... we have the plants - check ... we have the pebbles - check ... we have the trees - check ... we have the BRIDGE (so excited about that) - check ... we have the logs - check ... we have the water tank - check ... we have the water pump - no we don't have the water pump - yet ... we have the inspiration (thanks largely to you) - check ... we have the plan - naahhh not on paper anyway! We're more the fly by the seat of your pants kind of girls ... BUT we have the imagination - check ... we have the enthusiasm - double check ... we are so ready to go we just might burst!

    Those pictures you've put up are awesome and have got us chomping at the bit, in fact they have just reinforced in my mind that we do in fact know what we're doing ... I think you'll be impressed Jenny, in fact you'd better start packing your bags because you're definitely going to want to come visit us now! We're back at kinder next week so the following week we'll be ready to show you what we've created! Bring on the new term!!!
    :) :)

  4. Cath: My pleasure :) When I read your post today I was going to email you the pictures but thought I'd blog them instead.

    Danita: There is just something alluring about pebbles and rocks!

    Sherry and Donna: My, you ladies have been busy in your holidays. And you have a bridge too! If we ever get to have one you know I'll be picking your brains about what plants etc you used - and where you got a bridge! All sounds very exciting and I look forward to all the updates. I hope all your little landscapers are ready.

    Hey, just remembered I will probably be in Melbourne in July for a progressive education conference. Maybe I could come and play for a bit :)

  5. Once more we get to piggy back on your research Jenny! The best thing about a dry creek bed in Seattle is that it will be a wet creek bed for nine months of the year.

  6. So many great pictures with wonderful ideas.

  7. I adore all these pictures that you've put together Jenny! So many little hidey holes for tiny fingers to store treasures, house plastic minibeasts etc. I think this would be a great place for pirate play too once wet! The kids could make some pebbles into islands etc.
    We call this a "rock garden" in outdoor play here - but doesn't dry creek sound so much more exciting!!!?

  8. Wow, what inspirational pictures! We are planning a dry creek bed in our backyard too...just have to find a bit of space as I have so many ideas! LOL Preschool teachers shouldn't be allowed backyards! Hehehe

  9. Do you know this blog about playground design:
    I so often see wonderful things there that I'd love to be able to recreate, or at least visit and play in with my kids!

  10. I'm glad you all enjoy the pictures as much as I did.

    Playing by the Book: thank you for the link. this is one of my favorite sites - amazing images!

    Christie: There's probably a lot that preschool teachers shouldn't be allowed :)

    Carly: I like the idea of a rock garden too.

    Busy Brissy Mum: Do you think dry creek beds are an australian thing? It seems us aussies are all attracted to the idea!

    Tom: I'm good with research - just seem to be a little slower actually getting things up and running! Does it really rain that much where you are?

  11. This comment has been removed by the author.

  12. Jenny, we average over 180 days per year of complete overcast and around 100 days classified as partially overcast. It doesn't often rain hard, but we tend to live most of the year in a slow, steady drizzle.

    It's not uncommon for children to say "it's too bright" to play outside. We had a rare sunny week at the beginning of March and when the clouds returned my daughter said, "Ah, it's nice to get back to normal."

    A couple of tidbits from my years as the communications manager at the Seattle Chamber of Commerce: 1) We buy more sunglasses than any other city in the US (probably because we lose them between sunny days) and 2) We buy fewer umbrellas than any other city in the US (probably because everyone already owns good rain gear).

  13. Hi good day ! nice post you have . It's very nice , I have plan to setting up my garden can you give me an idea or steps on how to make it beautiful. i have heard some garden accessories such as garden spinners , wind chimes , wind spinners and many more . I want to try this things in my garden but i don't know how to get the right accessories . I hope you can help me . thank you .

  14. Was wondering how to back fill a deep koi pond because it posed a drown hazard for my day home toddlers. Was sad to consider having to get rid of all the wonderful rocks I'd collected over the years, but now I have inspiration to transform the site into something safer and just as alluring!