The First Step in a Transformation

By Dexter Lane, Nature Explore Consultant


An existing playground’s days are numbered.  It was a typical playground with soft flooring, and a multi-use, ruggedly constructed steel climbing structure.  “While it looks like fun when you first see it, the kids get bored really fast,” said Carie Cagnina, Assistant Director of the Learning Center at Warren Village in Denver, Colorado.  “There are only so many ways you can use it… There’s a lot of hiding when they’re upset…  It’s hard for teachers to see them or to get to them sometimes because of the design of the play structure.”  Some older children don’t engage with the space, and congregate in one area.  “Their play often turns pretty violent pretty quickly because they don’t have enough.”

Now, children are learning from their teachers about a “new playground” they will soon have.  But this playground will be different.  Rocks, flowers, new trees, musical instruments, climbing and art areas — and more — will soon be in place.   A playground that does not “have enough” for children, will be replaced by a Nature Explore Outdoor Classroom that will have something for everyone- teachers and parents included.

The children grow excited, and talk about the new “classroom” that will soon be awaiting them outside. One day a transformation begins. The old playground structure is removed.


Flooring is ripped apart to reveal the long hidden dirt underneath.







Flagstones are chipped into shape for a path.







Trees and shrubs are planted.







After careful measurement, a musical instrument is placed in the earth.







Large planter boxes are built and treated.







Irrigation lines are placed, to feed each plant.







A mother, whose excited children have told her about the plans, drops by to take photos.






For now, it is the space that is transforming.

Further transformations coming soon…