A visit to a Head Start facility 20 years ago changed the course of business for the Natural Playgrounds company in Concord, NH.
We had been designing Natural Playgrounds for several years, exploring the potential for discovery oriented, creative play on a completely natural theme, and were being welcomed by childcare facilities around the country because we were offering a more philosophically consistent approach to outdoor play.
But when we walked into this New York Head Start facility, something prompted us to wonder out loud how teachers knew, out of all of the millions of possibilities, what was important to teach their children.
“Here’s how we organize our topics,” and without a pause, the Director pulled out a list of 40 thematic units.
It wasn’t until after we left the facility that we had time to look carefully at the list. We were trying to figure out how to incorporate the idea of a learning environment in the design of Natural Playgrounds, and after looking over the list we were struck by the numbers of things that could be more easily taught outside than inside.