Wednesday, February 09, 2011

The Brain NEEDS Play! Login To These February Webinars

If you are interested in hearing more about natural playgrounds join one of these upcoming webinars. I would be interested to hear your feedback!

Play Everyday For A Healthy Brain!
Tuesday, February 22, 2011 – 1:00 PM – 2:00 PM EST
The brain NEEDS play! The human brain is an amazing and complex organ that allows each of us to think, feel, and act. The brain systems that regulate those activities are largely shaped by experience. Learn why play is essential for optimal early brain development and why it is vital for all parents and educators to be play partners and play advocates. Join Head Start Body Start and author, speaker, educator and parent, Deborah McNelis for this informative webinar. To register, click:

Photo from: Dreaming Spires ETSY

Playground Safety Guidelines & Nature Playgrounds                                    February 24, 2011 10:00 AM - 11:00 AM                                                                This will be a webinar and discussion of Natural Playgrounds and how playground guidelines apply and do not apply to components such as boulders, trees, log stumps, embankment slides, and tree swings.

Three New Playgrounds in Tualatin Hills Park and Recreation District

Kids in the Tualatin Hills Park and Recreation District will soon have three new playgrounds to enjoy. The parks district is replacing old and out of date equipment at Forest Hills Park, Raleigh Hills Park and John Marty Park as part of their capital improvement projects. GreenWorks is helping THPRD develop playground designs and solicit feedback from the public. Along with the playground designs will be upgrades to ADA accessibility, the addition of site amenities including benches and picnic tables, planting for buffers and shading, fencing and seat walls.

THPRD and GreenWorks held public meetings earlier this year to get feedback on the playground designs as well as receiving feedback on the internet. The neighbors are excited about the new equipment and were able to steer us in the right direction for the design of their new park. Below are some of the drawings developed by young neighbors of John Marty Park. Some are easier to translate than others!

My favorite design elements include the Landscape Structures Mobius Climber (provided by Ross Recreation Equipment) at Forest Hills Park. The kids are sure to love the Dynamo Apollo Spinner (provided by Game Time) at Raleigh Park. A sand and water play area at Raleigh Park will feature a Farm Hand Pump from Goric that gets kids moving and saves on water from a direct water line into the sand. 

The playgrounds should be done by summer! Stay tuned for installation photos as the GreenWorks team volunteers to install the equipment at Forest Hills Park. 

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Combating Nature Deficit Disorder in Alabama

Auburn University Nature Play Area
Shortly after my last post on animal houses I received this link from a colleague. 

Auburn University has completed a natural play area focused on providing an opportunity for families to explore the outdoors. Kaboom's cool playgrounds site says, "The playground represents an effort to combat Nature Deficit Disorder in an era where children ages 8 to 12 spend nearly 7.5 hours per day in front of a screen." The Louise Kreher Forest Ecology Preserve, a community outreach program for the School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences at Auburn, opened the play area to visitors last fall. Find more information on this project in the video below and the link here.

Photos courtesy of Auburn University.


Monday, February 07, 2011

"Urban Jungle" in a UK School

I have seen a lot of school greening, learning garden, and playground projects. But, the design and intentions of this one caught my eye. The simplicity of the structures is great. They used land form and vegetation to create extra interest.

The Basics:
School: Merrylee Primary School UK
Importance: First School in Scottland with a Natural Play Area
Cost: about $150,000
Theme: Looked like animal houses; hedgehog's log and fox's den are among the areas of interest.
Partners: Headteacher, the Parent Council, staff, parents, forestry commission and pupils.

The Design: I really like the graphics! This was put together by a local landscape architect and parent of a student at Merry Lee Primary, Felicity Steers.

I thought it was interesting how animal themes pull through this play area. See my other posts on animal themed play areas. Animal activities and homes are a fun way to get kids engaged moving and thinking about places more creatively.

The Details:

Photos from:

You can find more information and updates on the project here. Does anyone have a natural school playground near them? I would be interested to hear about it.
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