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Preschool playground gets new lease of life

At the beginning of this school year, Lyceum preschool embarked on a journey to transform a derelict courtyard into an outdoor classroom.

After several planning sessions, the team which included staff, parents, and many members of the community started the monumental task of cultivating the outdoor space.

In keeping with the plan to become an accredited Eco-school through Greenrock, the main focus was to ensure that recycled materials were used as much as possible, the space should incorporate lots of natural features that allow students to learn through inquiry, and that the space was maximised to include many developmentally appropriate preschool components, including art and music.

The parents raised approximately $3,000 during a walkathon in October, and combined with monies saved from previous years, met the financial need to fulfil all the phases of the project.

Realising that a majority of the work would require a lot of manpower, we partnered with the prison farm.

It was through this partnership that we were able to get many of the features built; as well as more than 50 tonnes of dirt, gravel and sand brought in to fill the space.

Belco poles were used to create the sandpit and garden area. Pallets were used to create a bench and a play house. An old spool was engineered by the prison farm, to become a water wheel and PVC pipes were used to create chimes. The inmates worked tirelessly over the school breaks in both February and March to ensure each phase was completed.

The Marketplace donated lunch and snacks for everyone who volunteered. Richard Foggo, Leon Stevens and Gerald Young were instrumental in trucking all the supplies and ensuring that the vegetation was removed to make room for the garden.

While the ribbon cutting was in May, the students have been thoroughly enjoying the space since February.

The students have added their personal touch by planting vegetables in container gardens (recycled wine crates) and have come up with their own unique ways to play in the different spaces that have been created.

When asked, the students' three favourite parts of their outdoor classroom were the play house, the water play tables, and the sandpit.

The teachers have also loved having this new space to enhance their teaching.

Students are able to use this space daily, and the teachers spend lots of time engaging in open ended and hands-on materials with them.

One teacher said: “Our mission was to bring nature into the lives of our children as much as possible, and through this initiative our students are getting on average an extra hour of outside time every day.

We are hopeful that this space will continue to transform over the years and that students learn to reconnect with nature in their lives. The positive gains are endless when daily nature connections are made”

Happy space for students: the ribbon-cutting ceremony at the new outdoor classroom (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

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Published May 19, 2016 at 9:00 am (Updated May 18, 2016 at 11:53 pm)

Preschool playground gets new lease of life

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