We have learned a lot about how children play and what they are innately drawn to and interested in by observing them in many settings. Our Little Woods space in particular has taught us a great deal about the value of open-ended exploration, appropriate risk-taking, and endless opportunities for individual and social learning experiences. Our perception of strong play yards has evolved with our ongoing research and to that end, we will be making changes to our spaces over the next several months. Rather than replacing some of our aging equipment, we are re-thinking the use of outdoor spaces, transitioning from a “single-use” mentality to experiences where children have much more agency, choice, and time to impact their own learning and skill development. Our monies will be spent in lumber yards, garden centers, and hardware stores far more than in equipment catalogs and toy stores, though a few key pieces will help us frame the environment appropriately. We will design spaces with intentionality based on what we know of children’s interests, and we will leave room for the ideas that will bubble up from children. There will be opportunities for challenging play with many ways to engage and there will be “blank slates” that make way for ingenuity and invention---things that we adults haven’t thought of ---but children certainly will!
We are excited about putting our research into practice. This will be an ongoing and evolving adventure that we will continue to share with you as we journey on, partnering with your children to make their spaces equal to their creativity, energy, passion and vitality.
Click through the pictures below to see how the children interact with the environment in the Little Woods.