Why Undertake a Playground Renovation?A new natural playground will benefit our children in so many ways. Outdoor play supports children’s healthy development. Ample time to engage in open-ended play outdoors helps children:
- Develop motor skills, balance, flexibility and physical fitness by running, climbing, jumping, hanging, digging, carrying, playing sports and games and more
- Build self-esteem by taking risks in a safe environment and conquering fears
- Build positive relationships with peers
- Hone social emotional skills by communicating with others, cooperating to tackle challenges, waiting, taking turns, resolving disputes, and persisting when something is hard
Natural playgrounds add possibility.Traditional playgrounds cater to children’s physical developmental needs. Natural playgrounds — playgrounds designed to integrate play equipment with the natural features of the space, relying heavily on organic materials like plants, boulders, logs, and sand — offer that, plus so much more. For instance:
- Natural playgrounds encourage creativity and imaginative play. They are the perfect setting for playing pirates, opening a “restaurant,” or making up new rules for a hide-and-seek game.
- Natural playgrounds help students learn to enjoy and appreciate elements of nature. Rocks, trees, plants, dirt, sand, sticks, logs, and water present endless possibilities for play, especially when presented in appealing and inviting ways.
- Natural playgrounds are versatile. Rather than being single-use, features invite children to take their play in many directions.
Outdoor play helps kids learn.
The positive impacts of outdoor play follow kids when they head back inside the school building. Research has shown that time outdoors can:
- Support intellectual development
- Boost ability to concentrate
- Improve mood
- Reduce stress
As one Pond Cove fourth grader so eloquently stated: “When I’m outside, I feel more free. I stay more calm, I feel more ME!”
Nature is the perfect classroom.
Taking lessons outside offers unique opportunities to bring instruction to life, engage students via all their senses, and inspire wonder. The Nature Land area of the existing Pond Cove playground was established eleven years ago by teachers and community members passionate about opportunities for environmental learning. The new playground design addresses current challenges — such as inadequate ability to water the garden beds — and expands possibilities for learning outdoors. With an updated outdoor learning space, here are just some of the things students could do:
- Observe plant parts, and how plants grow and change over time and in different conditions
- Explore how plants are pollinated
- Learn about the process of composting
- Design, plant, care for, and harvest from a garden
- Observe seasonal changes
- Use scientific and measurement tools like compasses, binoculars, thermometers, and water gauges
- Observe insects and birds
- Write and create art in an inspiring setting
- Enjoy classroom events and celebrations in an aesthetically pleasing, enjoyable space