The courtyard created between the old and new buildings had become the playground by default and not by design. Formally structured and paved, with a single post and platform structure in the centre, it did not match the Reggio Emilia curriculum that was so thoughtfully adopted by staff in this brand new facility. Our challenge was to match the learning environment that had been so carefully fostered inside the school. The result was a gardening zone that was designed to greet parents and visitors as they entered the playground and provide a series of sensory experiences. Additionally, the space now features a sideways tree, mirrors, and a large Carolinian forest that reflects the wild landscape that existed in this space a century ago.
The sideways tree is a favourite in this playground. It started rough with all its bark and now is smooth and well loved. It provides a place for gross motor play, balance and coordination, while at the same time providing dramatic play opportunities. The serviceberry patch is another favourite spot where children can explore inside a living fort, find a quiet spot, and—when the time is right—pick and eat delicious berries.