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Learn about our natural outdoor play and learning space
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When we set out to revitalize our outdoor play space in 2011, we chose to make more than mere improvements. Our vision was to connect children with the natural world by providing unstructured, natural play with endless opportunities for exploration and discovery.
Our overall plan was custom designed by the Natural Playgrounds Company, the leading national experts in the field, and features many different areas such as a hand pump with wood sluiceway, sand pits, a shallow stream and water wall, a rock scramble, and a water patio with splash pads. The first of three phases has now been completed, transforming the Junior Pre-Kindergarten and Pre-Kindergarten spaces.
The playground provides children with infinite ways to play and discover their world using natural and safe elements such as flowers, gardens, trees, rocks of all sizes, water features, hills and valleys. There is also a wood climbing wall, sunken fort, stage, whimsical playhouse, incline bridge, and willow tunnel. The yard features a stone labyrinth as one of the therapeutic play elements that have been found to calm children, especially those who have attention difficulties.
Teachers and children together care for herb, vegetable, and wildflower gardens. Wood art panels and musical elements, such as a musical fence (xylophone) and pebble harp will encourage children to express themselves through creative arts.
View our Master Plan
In his landmark book “Last Child in the Woods”, child advocacy expert Richard Louv brought together cutting-edge studies that pointed to direct exposure to nature as essential for a child’s healthy physical and emotional development. The growing body of evidence continues to link the lack of nature in children’s lives and the rise in obesity, attention disorders, and depression. Louv’s message has galvanized an international back-to-nature campaign to “Leave No Child Inside.” His book will change the way you think about our future and the future of our children.
Outdoor play in an integral part of every child’s day at Turtle Rock – regardless of their age or program.
“At the very moment that the bond is breaking between the young and the natural world, a growing body of research links our mental, physical and spiritual health directly to our association with nature.”~ Richard Louv
“At the very moment that the bond is breaking between the young and the natural world, a growing body of research links our mental, physical and spiritual health directly to our association with nature.”
Natural playgrounds are play environments that blend natural materials, features, and indigenous vegetation with creative landforms to create purposely complex interplays of natural objects in ways that challenge and fascinate children, and teach them about the wonders of the natural world while they play within it. Natural playgrounds focus on creating settings that enable the type of play most important to young children: social play (pretending) and constructive play (building). These settings encourage children to use their imaginations while simultaneously experiencing the smells, textures and wonders of the natural world.
Our new Natural Playground ensures that our children will have a wonderful place to go outside where they can both play and learn.
A case for Natural Playscapes
Developmentally, the first six years are the critical years of a child’s life, where we literally mold their mental and physical health. This is the best opportunity we have to effect positive change in their lives and their health. There is now an overwhelming body of research showing a direct link between exposure to nature and the physical, mental, and emotional well-being of children – including reducing ADD.
Benefits of natural play:
Children & Nature Network Research Summary