Saturday, January 1, 2011

what rusty keeler said: form a playscape committee

This is the 3rd post in the series "What Rusty Said: Creating Natural Playscapes". 
You can read the first post here, or just jump right in as we look at Rusty Keeler's second tip for kick starting your own natural playscape:

Form a Playscape Committee

At preschool we have more ideas for the outdoor environment than we can poke a stick at.  So why is progress so slow?  I think the answer is that we don't have the organisation or focus that comes from having a playscape committee. 

Teachers are busy people with a lot on their plate.  Without a team of energetic helpers it is difficult to devote the time needed to get your outdoor learning project up and running.  

Putting together a team of parents, teachers and members of the local community who share our enthusiasm is an important step towards making your playscape dreams a reality.  It also becomes a wonderful community building experience, right in your own backyard!

The Work of the Playscape Committee

Together you can brainstorm the unique resources and materials of your community, begin dreaming the playscape possibilities: draw up plans and schedule a timeline that will kick start the project. 

Rusty recommends breaking the committee down into areas of responsibility with people in charge of locating materials; signing up volunteers; sourcing tools and equipment; fundraising and organising working bees. 

The case studies in Rusty's Natural Playscapes offer inspiring insights into how different teams worked together to create amazing playscapes in their centres.   Here is an excerpt from the Mekeel Childcare Centre:

We started with the parents at Mekeel, university members, and then the outside community. First we sent a letter stating our endeavor and asked for replies if they were interested in serving on the committee. At our first meeting, we established goals and how to move forward.

We needed go-getters, responsible people to handle specific jobs. And we got them. Each person on the committee had a specific job. For example, one parent was strictly responsible for finances. Another parent was responsible for spreading the word on campus about volunteers needed to actually build the project. Committee members reported their progress at each meeting.

Playscape Committee Sites

I love the idea of keeping your community informed and enthused through online updates or blogs, like these two centres are doing:

::: The Ivy Playscape
:::  The Elm Tree

Next in the Series
Who are the people in your neighbourhood?.


  1. Thanks for this advice!

    It's also helpful to have a skill-sweep of parents and school community. This means that the interests, hobbies and professions and skills of the adults are kept in a database so that when a specific skill is needed then the person or people can be contacted directly.

    Also it's really important to have children represented on a playscape committee. If this is not in person - ie children actually present, then a person allocated to seek their views is necessary. There are lots of books about and ways of involving the children - I'll perhaps blog about this in due course.

  2. wow! This is a VERY good idea! I think we're at such a basic level right now, it was difficult to understand how to start! I can certainly see the benifit of getting a group of people together all working towards the same goal! We have some other issues we're currently dealing with- making our outdoor area as accessible as possible for our children with physical difficulties (we have children in wheelchairs and walkers and others who are walking but have mobility issues). Do you have any suggestions or resources for creating playscapes which are accessible for all children? (obviously, we want to challenge children physically, but not prohibit them from engaging and exploring the environment) Thanks for posting this!

  3. I've got some information regarding accessibility. If Pam or others wish to contact me via my website I can forward the handouts.