Bespoke Play Areas
Using Natural Materials

Tel: 01204 840 284

Over the past few years the staff at Ladywood Primary school have been dedicated to improving the outdoor learning environment for their Early years students. This year, we at Cool Canvas were asked to update and redesign the school’s Reception outdoors area.

Our aim

We aim to provide high quality outdoor play spaces. Each of our installations overflow with natural resources which allow all children to the freedom to express themselves. By working closely with Early Years providers we are able to create bespoke playgrounds that bring the best of the natural world into a child’s own school.

The Cool Canvas Consultation

The initial phase of any new playground installation is the consultation. This takes approximately 2 hours and gives Oliver the opportunity to work with the staff and the children and to understand what they want to see in their play space. From this first meeting Olly produces a primary design. The next task is for Oliver and the team to bring this design to life.

Working from the ground up

If you have ever taken a stroll through a woodland or across the moors you will know that the natural world is not a flat one. Undulations and inclines, holes and hillocks make every step an adventure.

We wanted to reproduce a variety of levels within this play space. Physical development is encouraged as a child learns to climb and clamber. As they grow bolder with their bodies, children also grow more confident and this builds their self-esteem. There is a natural sense of achievement at surmounting an obstacle.  In a play setting a child’s imagination will take a leap as the small mound that has been conquered becomes a castle. Who hasn’t declared their king-ship whilst standing on top of a mound of earth?

The ground in Ladywood already had a natural embankment and it seemed only right to enhance the slope and make it part of the play experience, rather than a prohibited area.

What better than a slide? With our current warm winters and no guarantee of snow, the children would now be able to use sledges on the sturdy artificial grass layer.

Holes and hideaways

Caves, hollow logs and trees and arches are nature’s way of providing us with secret hideaways.

With the space at Ladywood we were able to create several hideaway opportunities.

Combining a mound with a tunnel provides far greater variety for play as well as experiencing the spatial knowledge of ‘in’ ‘under’ ‘on top’ ‘through’.

The freedom for imagination to develop are endless. From magical realms to acting out traditional tales children will bring any hideaway to life with their own interpretation of their surroundings.

Welcoming nature in

As a natural play specialists our desire to bring the joy of nature to a manmade or artificial environment. Bug hotels and wildflower turf allow children to become more comfortable and interested in nature rather than feeling fear every time a flying insect comes near them. Bees, butterflies and other pollinators are in decline, and it is one of our aims to educate the next generation as to the importance of our flying friends and hopefully to see them hard at work, pollenating and collecting nectar.

The staff at Ladywood primary were keen to encourage wildlife into the play space and we were able to line an embankment with wildflower turf, grasses and a bug hotel.

Up and down and all around

The centre point to the Ladywood play area was the sunken trampoline and the swing. A sturdy quality basket swing held up by wooden struts create an exciting opportunity for physical development. Children can quickly improve co-ordination and balance as they engage with larger pieces of play equipment. The learning experiences gained enable them to grow in confidence. Through play children can be supported in turn taking and team work. This helps to build positive relationships with one another.