Outdoor time and greenspace…?

One of the jewels of the St. Louis park system is right across the street:  Tower Grove Park. The park, with over 400 species of flowering plants, shrubs and trees spread over 289 acres of land, is our outdoor classroom and off-site greenspace. The park features a butterfly sanctuary, groves of oak trees and cypress trees, a creek, a large lily pond, and huge meadows for flying kites or circle games. The park, sheltered from the city streets, is an oasis of green in the midst of the Tower Grove / Shaw neighborhood.

Back at school, children will garden and have extended free-play time in our fenced-in greenspace in front of the building. Here the children will grow vegetables and flowers in raised garden beds, swing on a rope swing, and jump around the stumps & sand. By keeping our playspace low-tech, we foster the children’s abilities to engage in immersive play with the environment around them. There are also many opportunities to do real work (which children love to do), such as sort twigs into bundles, shovel woodchips and haul them around, take sandpaper to smooth a branch, or use a hammer to drive stakes into the ground to form a dragon-trap. 

This space is child-centered, so the children can restructure it to suit their needs. Using their imagination and creativity, the children make their own playspace using branches and logs, poles and ropes, shovels and buckets, or whatever lies to hand. Working together without teacher interference, the children create something for their play together: It’s a kitchen … now it’s a boat … now it’s a castle tower. 

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