Nature Play Area

Nature Play Area

This winter and spring I had the pleasure of working with an amazing educator, Sydney Bergen, from Riverstone International School. Together we worked with the school administration to design a curriculum for her 8th grade Design Technology Class to create a pilot Nature Play Area for the Elementary School. We worked diligently to ensure that the students could have a full breadth of design possibilities and learn the basics of playground safety and design to create a play area which could actually be installed and used by the campus community.

We started by taking a tour of the Sage International School Nature Play Area with the teacher and administrators, and learned about the process they used to create their playground.

Over the course of the school year we collected donations of raw materials for the class to use and consider. We cut many of the larger logs into useable “rounds” for the students to experiment with in their design. The students considered their materials and design as they removed any hazards and sanded down potential splinters, preparing the wood to be used in the “littles” play area.

The class is divided into two periods, so each class got to come up with a design and lay it out. The final installation was an act of design diplomacy as they combined the elements of their plans into the actual play area.

Once both classes had agreed to a design it was ready to be put in place. Installation day was a joyous day for the elementary schoolers. They were excited to have a natural play component in their playground and thankful to the middle schoolers who designed and installed it for them.

It was really rewarding to help Sydney and her students pilot this project. Hopefully this serves as a jumping off point that allows us to create a much larger Nature Play Area for the older students in the coming years. I am already looking forward to next year’s project with Sydney’s Design Technology sustainability unit!