Update: Emma Katznelson is now the admissions director at Wildwood. See our profile of her HERE.
I was honored to be invited to Wildwood Elementary School for a tour of their new outdoor learning and play spaces on Friday. Ever since my step-mom and co-author, Anne Simon, served as head of Wildwood’s Elementary School, I’ve had a special place in my heart for the school.
Landis Green, the head of school, is a friendly, experienced and truly inspiring educator. Sitting in his office on a sunny afternoon, I chatted with him about a range of subjects, from kindergarten admissions to teacher hiring and standardized test preparation, I got the sense that he truly loves his job. Afterwards, Katie Rios (head of the elementary school), Jennifer Rowland (communications director) and Chantelle Pierre (admissions director) were gracious enough to show me the new outdoor spaces, which were completed just in time for the start of the new school year.
Designed to inspire children’s imaginations and connect them to nature in a space that allows for creative play of all types. The transformation is incredible!
|Wildwood Elementary School’s new outdoor play space: Big Yard Woods
Pretty green trees, shade, water and native California plants define Wildwood Elementary’s lush new play and learning spaces, designed by world-class garden designer Nancy Goslee Power. Removing a large, 11 year-old play structure from Wildwood’s “Big Yard” (but leaving the main athletic field for P.E.), and adding ground cover made of ProDeck, a soft-synthetic mulch with 70 percent recycled tires, Nancy and a team of school administrators and teachers created a magical new play experience that mimics the natural world.
|The Arroyo: A dry creek bed and a bridge for kids to sit on
|The Arroyo: kids create dams and water-oriented projects
|Play spaces that spark children’s imaginations
|A hand pump allows water to flow through creek-like stream bed
|A bright red wooden play structure
|My particular favorite: a stunning shaded archway covered in willows and grapes
The Outdoor Classroom
|The outdoor classroom is complete with a white board installed on a topiary
The curriculum of the outdoor spaces includes:
- All students will have an opportunity to work in the gardens.
- Grades 2-5 will have their own garden bed in the outdoor classroom to learn about tending, nurturing, and composting.
- 2nd grade will create a wildlife garden to attract butterflies and other critters.
- 3rd grade will grow edible gardens using seasonal, native vegetables
- 4th grade will create a garden based on plants introduced by European settlers
|I watched a teacher holding class outside
Nestled on an urban campus, Wildwood Elementary School’s spectacular new outdoor spaces combine eco-friendly beauty and learning. What could be better than that?
For more information, visit, www.wildwood.org
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