I would like some ideas for play areas at a child care center that has many requirements about what we can have in the yard. It seems like everything I want to do is a tripping hazard.

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Hi Laurie.

Check out anything by Robin C. Moore & Herb H. Wong - specifically "Natural Learning- Creating Environments for Rediscovering Nature's Way of Teaching." Another excellent resource and perhaps more specific to what you are looking for is "Play for All Guidelines - Planning, Design and Management of Outdoor Play Settings for Children." I have the second edition of this book.

There are so many simple, creative things you CAN do that actually end up being more cost effective and inspire creative play and connection to the natural world. These books are reference books with hundreds of ideas.

Good luck.
What ideas are you longing to try?
Let us know - maybe through this forum we can help with suggestions.

Part of this playground change is the education of licensing inspectors and NAEYC Evaluators on the changes.
Remember, they are schooled in plastic and the lack of anything natural
Hi Laurie and thanks for your question. There is a new early learning guide from Project WILD called Growing Up Wild which has been blessed by NAEYC. Here is the web site for more information on how to get the guide and some training: http://www.projectwild.org/GrowingUpWILD.htm

Also, there is a wonderful booklet from the National Arbor Day Foundation called Learning With Nature Idea Book that describes natural play areas for young children. Their web site is www.arborday.org and you can contact Susie Wirth there for more information at swirth@arbordayfarm.org.

My thanks to Lulu and Diane for their suggestions as well. John
Hi Laurie

It isn't clear whether the tripping hazards are an overzealous interpretation of health and safety laws or whether the ideas you are thinking about have inherent big "trip and slip" factors. Perhaps if you share the ideas you have got and we may have suggestions about how these ideas can be done within H&S parameters. Here in the European Union, all the countries have the same H&S legislation but the interpretation between and within countries is quite remarkable.

Also useful thing to bear in mind is the routines within your child care centre. This can minimise the hazards posed. Another thing to consider is the benefits of the ideas that you have...in other words if the benefits from the activity really outweigh the risks then there maybe ways to reduce the trip factors.

Finally is there an option of changing the use of the area. Attached is a photo of a play area where decking was put in around the trees as the school principal was worried about children tripping on the tree roots. The additional space is big enough for 30 children to sit on (at 2 levels), lots to lie on and even an outdoor performance area! It was officially opened with a "Chillout Rap"

Thanks for the references! I can't wait to look them up

lulu steinberg said:
Hi Laurie.

Check out anything by Robin C. Moore & Herb H. Wong - specifically "Natural Learning- Creating Environments for Rediscovering Nature's Way of Teaching." Another excellent resource and perhaps more specific to what you are looking for is "Play for All Guidelines - Planning, Design and Management of Outdoor Play Settings for Children." I have the second edition of this book.

There are so many simple, creative things you CAN do that actually end up being more cost effective and inspire creative play and connection to the natural world. These books are reference books with hundreds of ideas.

Good luck.
I love the Learning with Nature Idea Book. I will look up the other items mentioned also. Thanks!

John Thielbahr said:
Hi Laurie and thanks for your question. There is a new early learning guide from Project WILD called Growing Up Wild which has been blessed by NAEYC. Here is the web site for more information on how to get the guide and some training: http://www.projectwild.org/GrowingUpWILD.htm

Also, there is a wonderful booklet from the National Arbor Day Foundation called Learning With Nature Idea Book that describes natural play areas for young children. Their web site is www.arborday.org and you can contact Susie Wirth there for more information at swirth@arbordayfarm.org.

My thanks to Lulu and Diane for their suggestions as well. John
I wanted to bury some dried stumps at different heights in the yard for the children to sit on, walk on, and I even had a larger one for a table and 2 smaller ones for chairs. I also have some flagstones that I wanted to bury even with the ground and make a labyrinth for the children to follow. I loved the idea with the tree! What a great stage!Thanks!

Juliet Robertson said:
Hi Laurie

It isn't clear whether the tripping hazards are an overzealous interpretation of health and safety laws or whether the ideas you are thinking about have inherent big "trip and slip" factors. Perhaps if you share the ideas you have got and we may have suggestions about how these ideas can be done within H&S parameters. Here in the European Union, all the countries have the same H&S legislation but the interpretation between and within countries is quite remarkable.

Also useful thing to bear in mind is the routines within your child care centre. This can minimise the hazards posed. Another thing to consider is the benefits of the ideas that you have...in other words if the benefits from the activity really outweigh the risks then there maybe ways to reduce the trip factors.

Finally is there an option of changing the use of the area. Attached is a photo of a play area where decking was put in around the trees as the school principal was worried about children tripping on the tree roots. The additional space is big enough for 30 children to sit on (at 2 levels), lots to lie on and even an outdoor performance area! It was officially opened with a "Chillout Rap"

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