Tuesday, January 11, 2011

what rusty keeler said: build your natural playscape

Today in the "What Rusty Keeler said: creating natural playscapes series" we get down to the nuts and bolts: building your playscape! 

All hands on deck

Now is the time to call in the reinforcements!  Rusty recommends providing child care and meals and make the opportunity to improve your playground a family occasion.
A playscape should be a family and community affair. It should be built with loving, tending hands. It should be created with local materials. It should be built and changed and re-changed on a regular basis. And guess what? YOU can do it yourself! Just like an Amish barn raising, the playscape can be done with volunteer labor and donations from the community.Not only will you save money building it with volunteers, but it also becomes a wonderful community-building and friend-making opportunity right in your own back yard. 20 ways to create play environments for the soul by Rusty Keeler

Benefits of building as a community (From Earthplay)
  • you save on labour and material costs
  • a sense of accomplishment and ownership
  • forming new friendships
  • strengthening community ties
  • a playscape that will truly be a reflection of the talents and labours of your local community

Build your playscape

Depending on the size of your project, you might decide to create your playscape over a series of weekend working bees, or to build it in phases over time. 

The Elm Tree centre's playscape plans show how they have broken there project into smaller projects each with own time frame.

Whatever the size of your project, Rusty's advice is "Dream big, start small, never stop"

Community build examples:


Next in the Series:  Last, but certainly not least: involving the children every step of the way


  1. I hope you don't mind. I've printed out this entire series of blog posts and am using them as a starting point for how to create our own plans. This has been a great, easy way to lay out the steps of creating a natural outdoor learning area. Thanks so much!

  2. Thanks for continuing to provide all these great links. When I did research last year before building ours, I didn't find nearly as much stuff as you have. I'm getting inspiration for additions/modifications we can make this year.

  3. What an amazing resource you are! I simply googled "natural playscapes" and I find such a wealth of information in one spot. I have begun conversations about playground transformation at the Montessori school where I teach. I can't wait for my next meeting. Hopefully I can get my colleagues as excited as I am !