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St. Andrews Catholic Primary School

Admist the friendships, play and extracurricular activities, the heart of a school is their learning environment. This learning environment extends to the outdoor spaces as they provide further opportunities for children to learn through play. A well-designed school playground transforms into an extension of the classroom and becomes a flexible and fun space for students and teachers to engage, learn and explore.

 Working with St. Andrews Catholic School and Solid Ground, Urban Play designed a school playground which is bursting with sensory stimulation and provides a place for all students to learn through play, no matter their ability. The playground’s design and special-chosen play equipment is based on years of research to ensure it is a learning environment that engages students physically, socially, emotionally and cognitively.

The playground is split into six play nodes which all offer different and exciting play experiences; sensory place, gentle place, sound place, dance place, listen place and spinning place. Made from wood, bricks, sandstone, stones and cement, a barefoot sensory path takes students on a play journey which engages all of their senses. As they make their way along the footpath, they will discover hand-carved wooden totem poles decorated with Koalas, Owls, Butterflies, Goannas, Platypus and Australian birds which will inspire story-telling.

Kompan play panels placed on either side of the sensory path add an extra layer to the play experience with a concave mirror panel distorting student’s image and a manipulative play panel which encourages fine motor skill development and social play. At the end of the sensory pathway, students find themselves at a large sand pit with a wooden rope run. Visually-engaging, custom-carved timber poles are decorated with native flora and fauna evoking story-telling as children climb their way across the rope run.

 A sound place encourages children to sing along and dance to the rhythm of their own beat. A Kompan Music Panel encourages children to understand the tonality of music and to get creative and create their own songs. Sonarc Sun Drums allow children to learn about rhythm and beat as the bop along and play the drums. The grass space behind the music zone, is known as the green dance place and allows students to dance and sing while others play. The dance place also allows for music teachers to play the drums or music panel while students listen, learn and dance.

 On what used to be a grassy knoll, the Gentle Place inspires children to explore and learn about cause and effect through play. At the top of the play zone is a water tap which streams down a dry creek bed. As the water twists and turns down the creek bed, it stimulates the students thinking skills and their understanding of cause and effect. Bright yellow Teletubes placed at the top and bottom of the zone encourage social play and further develop their understanding of cause and effect.

 At the bottom of the discovery zone, a dinosaur fossil is hidden beneath the sand. As students eagerly dig for the fossil, they engage in sensory play with the sand and will engage in story-telling. The dinosaur fossil can be used as a prop in outdoor learning as students take a step back in time and learn about when Dinosaurs roamed the land.

 The Spinning Place is home to a Tipi Carousel which is designed for children of multiple ages and abilities and helps to develop their proprioception and vestibular skills. Student can sit, stand or lie down in the Tipi Carousel as they spin and watch the world go around or push their friends. The school playspace also features a listening place which is an amphitheatre made of our grass and sandstone blocks. It offers a space for children to sit, listen and talk to their friends and is the perfect space for an outdoor classroom.

 

Equipment Used

In 2019 St Andrew’s School at Ferny Grove engaged the services of Tobias Volbert who is a Play Consultant & Landscape Architect for a company called Urban Play. Right from the first consultation Tobias was instrumental in creating, on paper, the perfect playground for our Early Years students. The proposed playground was creative, fun-filled and echoed many aspects of the school’s curriculum and certainly catered for those children who required extra sensory applications in their play.Together with Solid Ground as the major landscape company Tobias and his company transferred the exciting drawings of the playground into a state of the art, modern and effective space for the children to use. I would highly recommend Urbanplay and Solid Ground as a preferred playground team to cater to the needs of the school or company involved in the process.

John Leyden
St. Andrews Catcholic Primary School

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