The Toddler Room at Staple Hill Stars Pre-School had been provided with a fenced outdoor space that although had some good features, needed to be enhanced for them to be able to offer better outdoor play provision. They wanted a master plan that could be built in phases over time, allowing them to add elements and continuously update the space. We provided an overall plan and proposed a stage one design to fit their initial budget, giving them the base layer of transformation that can be then developed as funds allowed.
The lack of space was the main concern so we proposed moving the existing timber fence line out 0.5m on one side and 1.2m on the other; replacing a pedestrian tarmac path and metal fence line to gain important space.
Softening the space with the installation of astroturf onto the existing tarmac surface allows for much more play potential. Not only is it a quieter space acoustically, it is soft and gentle to sit on, changing the way in which children can use the space for quiet and more concentrated play. A gentle tarmac slope was retained for bikes and trikes to free wheel down and for mark making with chalk to be made.
To provide another versatile element and a contrast from the other surfaces, a large sandpit was included. Sandpits are one of the most versatile elements to a playground and a great way to further the development of the minds and bodies of children. By digging, pouring, sifting, and scooping sand, children use their upper bodies and arms in ways that many of their other toys do not require them to work. They are also very social spaces and encourage interaction and role play opportunities.
The sandpit was positioned next to the existing water channel feature, allowing the children to easily incorporate water into their play and learn the inherent physical properties of sand by comparing it wet and dry. A chunky log edging doubles up as a play features where the children can climb, balance, jump and sit. Shade was an important requirement as the space is very exposed, therefore a large rectangular sail shade was installed onto tall Robinia poles to provide shade over the new sand pit.