Falling Waters has recently been assigned the unique opportunity to design and expand the garden area of the Flora Vista Elementary School playground. We are honored that the school has thought of us and we are very excited to use our unique landscape design strategies to help grow the children's understanding of the outside world.
We are not just saying this because we ourselves praise all things to do with the environment, but we truly believe the outdoor experience of a child's day is vital to their mental, physical, and social growth. Children learn best when all of their senses are activated. Unlike adults they cannot sit in a 2 hour lecture given solely by word of mouth. In order to imprint a lesson into a child's mind, it has to be presented to them as something that is worth being remembered. By allowing them to engage in the subject and personally see and feel it in real life, more brain waves are activated and will be absorbed more fully. Showing a picture of the photosynthesis process is nothing compared to actually watching it happen.
Physically being outdoors, running, jumping, and galavanting, is not only good for children’s health but it allows kids to get out their jitters and stimulate blood flow to the brain, lending a more focussed attitude when back in the classroom environment. By moving and grooving, children learn the capabilities of the human body and its limitations.
If school is the only interaction that students have with their peers then the playground is the only way children will learn vital social skills. All on their own free will (recess being the only aspect of school they can control) kids will exercise their skills of leading, conflict resolution, and sharing to name a few. This is a prominent step that has been avoided in the past, creating socially stunted adults.
We want to break the norm of single purpose standardized playground structures and incorporate and diverse play experience, where no two plays are the same. This will be done with play elements that do not have instructions; however, each kid can approach it and find a new and fascinating way to use it. Not only will the garden be a new location to move the classroom, but we hope the garden will teach the students something as well. How to treat and care for nature will be a strong motive when designing the renovation of the garden.
These techniques can also be used in a household. By designing natural elements to play on, like stumps, logs, and rocks, this creates a timeless experience that when your kids grow up your playground becomes a hang out in the backyard. Just throw a portable fire pit in with the stumps and you have yourself a campfire.
Green School Yards is a resource for anyone who wants to learn how to revamp their playground to a fully ecocentric and learning hub.
This book has insight in how to design and what you should look out for during the process.