Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Spring Break and new inspiration!

Well, I've had several "aha" moments while working on the playscape over the break.  Sometimes I need a change in pace, a release from the ordinary tasks to dream up the really big stuff.

Future "Elm Tree-House Stage"
The first inspiration came when I was trying to come up with a design for the Treehouse, and suddenly thought how cool it would be to make it so it was "convertible", and able to transform into a stage for occasions when having a live, kid-friendly venue is beneficial.  Fundraisers, community meetings, parent meetings, family events, workshops, classes, community theater, open mics, the list is endless!

Stay tuned for sketches and a master supply list 
and please keep your ear to the ground for a good source of LOGS! We'll need a few. 

The second idea has do with the open grassy area just north of the sandbox.  It sits between two sidewalks and as of now, has no function, but I've carried around this idea that "something" wants to be there.  So I sat looking at it yesterday and it came to me!   I've decided to call the feature the center for "Mixology Studies" and create a permanent, circular area for water, sand, rocks, etc to be mixed in various combinations and cleaned up easily.  Kind of like a sensory table meets nature/science discovery table.  I will also work on preliminary sketches to post later.

Meanwhile, I have my work cut out for me finishing the dirt digging area storage, the greenhouse interior, decking out the art area and completing a mural for the "parking garage"!
Storage for Dirt Digging Feature

I'll be painting the chalkboard with purple chalkboard paint and hopefully acquiring some strong plexiglass to put up along the right side for painting on (easy clean-up) and a shelf for drying artwork above the chalkboard.  

And hopefully, keep your fingers crossed for me, I like to finish planting the slide in the big hill and building the platform for the top.

Work in progress

We are in need of ornamental grass donations to complete the slide hill/river bed feature, as soon as the last frost is passed, we will need to plant 10 ornamental grasses total of various sizes so if you are interested in purchasing them for the center as a donation or requesting donations of the plants from local growers please send us an email and we'll get you all the info for specific plant needs!

Happy gardening!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

A Playscape for All Seasons

Otherwise titled, "Why We LOVE our Playscape so much"!!

In the SPRING of last year we got to reap the benefit of our hard work the previous nine months and frolic on grass so green under lilacs so purple.  The kids found so many interesting and unexpected ways to use the willows and the gardens.  Flower hunts were a daily activity, to see what was growing and which ones smelled the best.  Mint from the herb garden was gathered along with lemon balm and lavendar for sun tea or just for smelling.

We successfully disturbed the rest of many a bug under many a rock.

The garden roared full tilt into production, and kids took an immediate liking to strawberry hill.

SUMMERTIME had us all trying to keep cool with lots of water play and shady spots.  Lucky for us, our backyard is shaded a lot of the time during the summer months!

When fall came, the newest addition to the playground was finally complete and ready to be explored.    
The boulders and logs have by far been one of the kids favorite additions.......they make great climbing objects!!
They are also used for contemplation,

Gaining a new perspective,

General gathering and conspiring, 
Obstacle courses, 

Taking turns getting off your stump and letting someone else have a turn, 

Sharing a favorite spot with a friend, 

Or just a comfy place to sit.

Yes, fall was good to us.  WINTER on the other hand was at times challenging given our unusual and sometimes crazy weather.  But we found lots of fun still to be had out in the playscape.  

The willow hut, it turns out, makes an excellent place to run through and through in an endless game of chase.  All you need is a buddy!

The art area is fully operational, no matter the weather!  

We kept the sensory tables up and running all winter with leaves, sticks, rocks and various stirring/measuring devices.  Elm Tree kids enjoyed carrying materials back and forth from sandbox, pea gravel and sensory tables (or wherever they got tired of carrying it).

 It never fails to impress me how quickly and dramatically I have seen the playscape affect the WAY the children play.  

There is more social and interactive play, the children seem more interested in being outside than anywhere else and engage in play and discovery the whole time.  

The direct interaction with natural materials, usually in a meaningful and joyful manner, has literally skyrocketed.  

Children seem to not only be connecting with nature more as a result of playing in a natural environment, they seem happier and better overall for it.  

Now if that doesn't sell you on the idea, I don't know what will!