Building Natural Playgrounds – Collecting and Arranging Large Loose Parts

By Claude Stephens

We know how valuable it is for children to explore their creative expressions by manipulating lots of varied loose parts. Give children boxes, tarps, sticks, tape, rope, tires, bales of hay – then stand back and watch what happens. Building natural playgrounds is really not much different except for the size of the loose parts. Creating a natural playscape, boiled down to its essence, is the art of collecting and arranging large loose parts. Rock, trees, sand, metal, soil, water – the building blocks of most ecosystems. Today we received a shipment of one hundred black locust poles that have been stripped of their bark and sapwood. Black locust (Robinia pseudoacacia) has been a traditional fence post material in this part of the world for hundreds of years because it is resistant to rot when in ground contact. These posts will be used in the upcoming construction of the Adventure and Exploration zones of Playcosystem over the next year.

Just like children get excited over the opportunity to create things with loose parts during a free play day, we get excited when really large loose parts arrive at Bernheim for the construction of Playcosystem. We wanted to share that excitement with you with these pictures of the delivery. We will eventually share photos of how we are using these posts to invite more play at Playcosystem.

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