But more about Rusty in a future post.Firstly I want to set the scene by showing you around The Point Preschool in Sydney, where the event was held. The Point is an inspiring example of what it is possible for us all to achieve relatively inexpensively in our own outdoor playspaces, even when you don't have much space to work with.
Let me show you a few of the things that tickled my fancy:
Natural cubbies in the sandpit, with lots of lovely natural "loose parts" for creative and imaginative play.
A living cubby.
Rather like a bean teepee, but not if you know what I mean.
Inviting places to sit and pause; touches of colour, comfort and interest.
Layered seating in a covered area that could be a stage, a meeting place...anything really. The plantings in pots dotted around the playspace are perfect for smaller outdoor areas.
Wind chimes and mobiles to add the elements of sound and movement.
This is a small space, but it feels larger because it has been creatively divided into outdoor "rooms" through the clever use of levels, plantings and pathways.
Baskets full of nature's gifts next to the sand pit:
The use of plantings of grasses, clumped together to define play areas is something that I would like to add to our playspace:
I walked away from The Point with a renewed understanding that to create places of wonder, beauty and learning for children you don't need a truck load of money. The ideas I photographed for our preschool are all very achievable on a low budget.
What you do need is vision, support from your school community and local community and time. The Point Preschool environment has been a work in progress for 10 years and is still evolving.
As Rusty told us at the end of his talk:
Dream big. Start small. Never stop.