Since the beginning of December, the preschoolers at our Greendale location have been waiting patiently, with noses pressed up against windows and fences, for Earthscape Play to finish their brand new naturalized playground.
While the kids certainly enjoyed watching the Earthscape team work on another masterpiece, just like they did at our Lakewood location last summer, they still couldn’t contain their excitement. What they didn’t know is that natural playgrounds provide so much more than just an interesting space to play in.
What is a naturalized playground?
Naturalized playgrounds incorporate everything you love about the playground up the street and everything you love about nature into one beautiful package that stimulates play in a new and interesting way.
Typically, natural playgrounds contain 5 elements; rolling topography (or hills and valleys), boulders, logs, pathways, and large trees or shrubs. The design and, subsequently, the materials are to reflect the natural, local surroundings.
We mentioned in a post a few weeks ago why we love nature play, and natural playgrounds provide the benefits of nature, conveniently, in an urban setting.
So, now it’s time to get specific about why we love natural playgrounds.
For every child
Most playgrounds favour the tallest, oldest, most athletically inclined children. You have to be pretty big to reach those monkey bars, after all! And while leadership is a trait that we foster in every child, it is also true that every child deserves an opportunity to master their play space.
That’s why natural playgrounds are so great. For example, our playground features a set of slides. They’re not your typical slides, though. No ladders here! Instead, there is a hill to climb for children who are just getting a handle on their motor skills. For children who may be a little older, there are steps of varying heights to clamber to the top. It is in this way that natural playgrounds are well suited to every child, in any stage of development.
For every kind of play
Natural playgrounds utilize a more unique design method that features abstract shapes. Take the structure at the heart of our playground, for instance. Is it a tent, a house, a mountain? It’s all those things and more. A natural playground doesn’t dictate how kids should play – it just inspires them to think outside of the box.
In a playground filled with possibilities that stretch as far as the imagination of a child, kids are more likely to play longer and to be more active. A growing body of research, including this document from the Canadian Child Care Federation, suggests that there is a direct and positive correlation between the number of natural elements included in a playground’s design and the amount of activity kids engage in while on the playground.
At the same time, natural playgrounds don’t just foster play – but all different kinds of play. The natural, abstract environment helps kids to get a handle on big subjects like cooperating with, expressing themselves to, and engaging with their peers. When you create something wonderful in your mind, you need to figure out how to share it with your friends, right? We have another post on why imaginative play is so important here.
We want to thank the amazing minds over at Earthscape Play for their work on our playground, and our preschoolers at Greendale for their patience.
We’ll see you next week!
– Today’s Family