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- Designing nature's playground -

5th graders from Willamette Primary shared ideas for White Oak Savanna Nature Playground


SUBMITTED PHOTO: CITY OF WEST LINN - The White Oak Savanna Nature Playground Workshop at Willamette Primary included several play stations where kids could test out materials that might be included at a future playground. Dozens turned out at Willamette Primary School Saturday, Feb. 27, for a workshop organized by West Linn Parks and Recreation Department to facilitate the design of a nature playground at White Oak Savanna.

The event was co-hosted by Katy Tibbs and Tina Allahverdian’s 5th grade class at Willamette Primary, and the idea was for children to provide hands-on input in the design of a new playground at the White Oak Savanna Park. Specifically, the playground is to be “nature” themed, prompting kids to engage with the natural environment around them at the park as opposed to settling for a ride on a traditional swing set.

SUBMITTED PHOTO: CITY OF WEST LINN - The most popular attraction at the workshop Feb. 27 was a water station where kids could create their own makeshift water systems with pipes and a water pump.

“There was a presentation given by our consulting firm, and then about five different play stations set up for kids and parents to interact with different amenities of nature,” Assistant Parks and Recreation Director Ken Warner said. “We had a lot of communication, as kids were interacting and parents with interacting with materials on the site.”

The different stations included a “loose parts” station with wood blocks, sticks, bamboo stakes and “tree cookies” strewn about for kids to build with. Other stations were for “model building,” “name tag building” and — perhaps most popular — a “water station” with an old fashioned water pump and various ramps and buckets.

For more practical purposes, there was also a “design station” where kids and parents could place sticky notes on a board with their suggestions.

In all, it was a successful event, Warner said. “(Parents and kids) actually really liked most of it,” he said. “It was interesting to see kids seemed to stay engaged a lot longer than we anticipated. There was more opportunity for parent and child interaction as opposed to the normal playground structure. Parents were saying how to tie knots, how to build things .... Overall there was just a high level of interest in the activities.”

The next step, Warner said, will be for the consultant to revisit the Willamette class and formally compile students’ thoughts. Then City staff will meet with the consultant to “walk through everything we learned.”

In all, the workshop was one of the beginning steps in what will be an extended design process.”We’re kind of on step three or four, probably out of a hundred,” Warner said. “We don’t know what it’s going to be, the budget, or the exact location.”

To learn more about other nature playgrounds in the Portland area, visit metro-parent.com/all-natural-playground-apr15.

SUBMITTED PHOTO: CITY OF WEST LINN - Other stations allowed kids to build their own Tipi-like structures with bamboo sticks.

SUBMITTED PHOTO: CITY OF WEST LINN - Students even made their own name tags with some of the nature-themed materials provided.