Monday, December 13, 2010

In Search of Log Climbers

I use the following picture a lot when I talk with clients. I think it is interesting and a good mix of natural wood and rope. I like the idea of kids being able to feel like they are climbing a tree. The layering of pieces is challenging and can inspire endless creative play. There is a feel of wood and round logs, (good for kids) but also an overall look of equipment (good for the maintenance folks). But, this is built in the UK.

This is more of a seating level climber I saw in Germany with no fall surface. I guess German kids are tough! You can tell the piece in the front has been replaced. It would be interesting to know how difficult replacing one piece is and how often it is done.
So, I have been trying to locate a more local version that I can share with clients. I have not had too much luck. In the Northwest with all of the rain our wood rots pretty quickly and people are pretty hesitant to use it. When this concept gets off the drawings table I will probably have trouble finding someone to build it for me. Below are a few of my favorite US and Canadian pieces. Unfortunately they are custom made, but they are beautiful!

The log jam at the Lumberman's Memorial site in Michigan is a playful replication that is educational and probably a lot of fun.

Log-fingers made by Warren Brubacher and Coastal Cedar Creations is a very inviting and beautiful play art piece.

If you have any ideas or know if any local log climbers I would love to hear about them.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Kindergarden Kids Outside All Day, Everyday???

At the Cedar Song Nature School on Vashon Island what might sound like a nightmare to some is a treat for a small group of preschool students. 3-5 year old students attend this unique preschool based completely outdoors. I had never seen anything like it. This is an amazing, low cost, and extremely hands on approach to early childhood education. I can imagine it still takes a bunch of planning time and material gathering. But the overhead saved in rent and utilities lays the groundwork to make this a more affordable option. Check out the sweet video below.

Part Amusement Park - Part Science Center - Completely Fun

DanFoss Universe in Denmark is amazing. It was a day excursion on our recent vacation to Denmark. This hands-on Science Center, based mostly outside, is captivating around every corner. While it would be a stretch to call it nature play it is an amazing learning space for all ages.You get so rolled up in the fun that you forget you are learning.

Activities ranged from working your own excavator to small group games. Everything was interactive, science based and fun! I have never seen anything like this site. It was engaging and we would have a world full of scientists and engineers if every day learning was so engaging.

The Waterworks area features lots of ways to move water:hand pumped water guns, an Archimedes screw pump, water channels, dams, and cooperative water moving tools.

This living willow structure offers side paths for kids that crisscross the main tunnel.

Earth mounds at their best.

This was an energy exhibit that features amounts of materials that all produce the same joules of energy. You can see the tall stacks of straw vs. the small hanging containers of bio fuels.

These dueling wind turbines offer us a unique chance to see how spinning the turbine blades and aiming them into the wind can effect their energy production greatly. Plus it is a competition! When you both get going together the nearby pipe organ offers a harmonic reward.

These solar panel sun flowers connect to an interactive water feature. Sun on your sunflower = a tall spray of water = good summer fun.

For more information check out the Danfoss Universe website and digital map.
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