It was a real pleasure to be at our Gainsborough nursery last week, where all the staff had worked really hard to arrange a small opening ceremony to mark the completion of their lovely new outdoor area. Anne and her team have spent months arranging the builders, designing the layout and then actually working with the garden designer to help the play area to emerge. What was a very dull grass area is now a much more versatile space, with some hard-standing, covered by a canopy to allow outdoor play on even the wettest days. The grass area contains the children’s favourite – a grass bank with a tunnel through the middle that makes for great hide and seek.
My favourite is the large wooden dragon sculpture, big enough for at least 2 children to sit on and imagine flying away. Despite the snow and rain we have had over recent weeks, the children have already made themselves at home in the new play area and as usual, it was the adults who were cold and ready to come inside on Friday, long before some of the children would choose to!
It is interesting how the design of children’s play areas has moved away from large fixed play structures, like slides and swings, and back to much more natural materials, wood, willow, bark, rope and grass. We are now trying to incorporate dens and tunnels, slopes and bumps, which the children can use their imagination to play with, rather than having something that is more prescriptive, like a swing. The Teepee at Gainsborough College nursery will undoubtedly be the centre for many different types of imaginative play and will never run out of ideas. It is good to see that in this day of expensive toys and brightly coloured plastic, that actually an old crate, a bit of tarpaulin and a bit of imaginiation will go even further in your own garden.
A big thank you to the staff team at Gainsborough for making us all so welcome on Friday, and to the Principal of Lincoln College, John Allen, who cut the ribbon so professionally, even if he was aided by a puppet! I hope the children will get a huge amount of enjoyment out of the garden area and that the staff will enjoy the extra space.