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NSW Schools Embrace Natural Play

The past two years in particular have been huge for schools embracing more adventurous nature play installations; incorporating the natural features of their grounds and encouraging interaction with both living nature and recycled natural materials.

Below are just a few of the fantastic playgrounds we have made recently for schools;

Annangrove Public School Annangrove is a small school in a stunning environment overlooking the local bushland. They wanted a playground that suited the natural setting, and provided a unique play experience compared to traditional play equipment. Timber Creations came up with a plan to utilise the exiting trees in the play area without damaging them, and created an amazing adventure playspace with balancing, climbing and exploring - vastly different to the standard playgrounds of the past. Additionally – there is now almost enough room for the entire student body to have lunch on the balance play retaining wall, which triples as extra seating!

Elderslie Public School Elderslie Primary School is a Public Private Partnership School, meaning they have to meet both sets of standards for any new playgrounds. The grounds are beautiful; however they desperately needed more play equipment to encourage active play. The school also had a few impractical spaces that were being wasted, such as the long, awkwardly sloping grass area in front of the kindergarten rooms. Timber Creations transformed this space into a meandering, discovery playspace that is now used by the whole school! The designers from Timber Creations looked at the space and provided a custom package selection booklet that allowed the students to choose the play elements they most wanted. Timber Creations then created a design using the elements chosen, and configured and adapted them to best suit the existing space.

The resulting space includes an imaginative café shop area, an active balance play trail up the slope, a social storytelling area, a natural dry creek bed with a bridge and boat, and more! These elements sit among the grass, which has been carefully kept, so children can enjoy the different natural textures as they play.

Cawdor Public School Cawdor PS had a very strong design brief for what they wanted in their playground. Their playground was designed to enhance the beautiful natural environment of the school grounds and encourage imaginative and physical play.

The main focus of the school community was their dream of a treehouse nestled among the existing trees above a mound. This presented a great number of challenges – creating something high in the canopy, on top of a mound covered with roots! Timber Creations visited the site and took precise measurements and photos to carefully figure out the height that could be achieved, where footings could be placed around the trees, and where climbing access could be, so that safe impact zones could be achieved. The result is fantastic!

Thornleigh West Public School

Spanning a huge area of the school grounds, the discovery playground at Thornleigh West is an incredible playscape that can be used by hundreds of children at once.

A "playscape" is a playground with an integrated design of play equipment, where it is difficult to tell where the playground starts and ends, encouraging nature play and blending seamlessly with the environment. The careful placement of the elements at Thornleigh West Public School turn the whole space into an interactive play environment - where children not only play with the equipment, but imaginatively play with the surrounding environment as well.

Starting with an active play area with climbing, balancing and fitness challenges for Years 3-6, the Timber Creations team designed and installed a softfall mulch area within a sandstone and log retaining wall that blends seamlessly with the natural grounds. This area features monkey holds, climbing totems, wobbly balance pommels, shipping rope crossing, stilts and many different natural log balance elements.

Nestled among the trees is a more passive discovery playspace for all ages, featuring imaginative play opportunities. Students can gather leaves, bark and other natural materials to experiment with at the mud kitchen, then sell their creations from the shop cubby to customers who can dine at the mushroom table!

Woy Woy Public School Preschool

Nationally recognised at the 2018 Kidsafe Design Awards, Woy Woy Public School is a demonstration of excellence in Early Childhood Nature Play. With a relatively small budget and a lot of great ideas, Woy Woy Public School wanted to create a practical and engaging playground for its preschool that matched its core values. Inquiry and play based learning and development, and parent/child/community participation were the focus of a holistic and inclusive playground.

All the elements are kept very open-ended for children to explore.

Toronto Public School

Toronto were looking for something to replace their tired factory-formed play equipment with a personalised design to suit the shape of the uneven ground and incorporate beautiful existing tree into the space. Using the slope to wrap the playground around the tree to encourage interaction, building the retaining wall to work with natural features and slopes to retain mulch, and using interesting logscapes to create climbing and clambering features certainly achieved a great experience for the students.

Elermore Vale Public School

Elermore Vale have a great active play area with two hangout nets and lots of elements for climbing, balancing and motor skill and strength development. The balance log overlay surrounds the tree which can be used for support as students develop their skills.

We look forward to creating many more exciting school specific playgrounds in the near future! Stay tuned, and if you would like to see what we can do for your school - contact us!


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