Preschool ‘nature play’ design by Alison Dean of Greenshade, built in collaboration with the Great Spaces construction team.
‘Nature play’ is a landscaping style using natural features like logs, rocks, and water. It’s the kind of playground that encourages movement, nurtures imagination, and fosters social connections and creativity. When Ferguson Park Preschool wanted to create a more inspiring environment for their pre-schoolers, they invited Alison and the Great Spaces team to rework the space.
Alison’s design aligns with the preschool’s play-based philosophy of building confidence and belonging in a stimulating and natural environment. Upgrades to the existing layout include an outdoor teaching space and a yarning circle. A dry creek bed and paths to explore, rocks to skip across, and logs to test balance. We added a tiny outdoor kitchen for baking mud pies and sand cakes to provide food for the imagination.
Some older play equipment and vegetation needed clearing before hard landscaping could begin. We created a base for the dry creek by excavating a natural hollow and lining it with giant pebbles. Then we sourced chunky logs and boulders to form the creek’s borders and natural play spaces. More boulders were hand-picked and placed around an ancient tree before compacted gravel finished a yarning circle to gather and share stories.
Our team constructed the outdoor classroom with a deck, a Colorbond roof for protection from the elements, and rustic railings. While posts, rails, and a natural brushwood-style roof completed a pair of small kitchens by the existing sandpit. The result is just what the children ordered. An excellent space for kids to share, explore, play, and learn amongst nature.