Posts Tagged ‘playscape’




I wrote about the early stages of the Playscape at the Ripley School three years ago, here. The idea of the playscape was to incorporate nature activities into a playground. An open house was held last Sunday, and I saw lots of children, parents, and grandparents checking it out.

Perhaps because it was early in the season, perhaps because an open house seems to call for planned activities, it was hard to see if there were enough attractions available for exploring nature on quieter days. Of course, I grew up on the edge of an orchard, a forest, and a mountain, and no one told us kids how to have fun there. Anything less in nature play seems sparse.

One thing I liked was not really an interaction with nature except that you had to walk through a field to engage. It was the story walk for Lynne Cherry’s picture book on a groundhog who learns to make his own garden rather than help himself to other people’s. The laminated page spreads on posts around the field were charming and had lots of useful details about plants and seeds.

A gardening friend on my commuter train was very glad to hear the groundhog learned to grow his own food and leave hers alone.

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A friend is helping to build a playscape, a playground for all ages and abilities that takes advantage of the natural environment‘s restorative qualities.

My husband and I went to see where the playscape is emerging with a boost from the state’s Community Preservation Act. It is located over by Gowing’s Swamp, a lovely wooded area with native plants once cataloged by Thoreau. We walked on a hilly woodland path around the swamp and took note of Canada Mayflowers like tiny bottle brushes and a starlike white flower with six long, narrow leaves growing out from the stem at the same height. (If I’d had my camera, I’d have uploaded a picture at MisterSmartyPlants.com.)

The Sudbury Valley Trustees oversee Gowing’s Swamp, and have this to say about it:

“Gowing’s Swamp, named by Thoreau for its landowner in the mid-1850’s, is an 8.9 acre acidic wetland complex located in a protected, glaciated hollow on the eastern side of a glacial kame known as Revolutionary Ridge.  A kettlehole bog, at the southern end of the wetland, contains specialized plant communities that are locally rare in Southern New England.  The natural area provides habitat for a diverse range of wildlife.

” ‘Unlike any other bog in New England, Gowing’s Swamp found its way into American literature by virtue of significant passages in Thoreau’s Journal,’ says botanist Ray Angelo, and has been visited and studied regularly over the last 160 years by Concord naturalists, literary and historical scholars, and has been the subject of ongoing scientific studies.” More here.

Photograph of Gowing’s Swamp: Sudbury Valley Trustees

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