New playground revitalises Moonee Beach
A new playground at Goodstart Moonee Beach
has revitalised the centre, turning an ordinary outdoor space into an environment rich for learning and exploring.
The $200,000 project was part of Goodstart’s centre upgrade program which saw 174 centres across the nation receive significant upgrades to their indoor and outdoor spaces in the 2016/17 financial year.
Moonee Beach centre director Karen Hunt said the new playground had opened up a world of opportunities for children in the centre.
“Opening the new playground has transformed the centre. There is so much shade that children can use it almost all day and there are so many natural elements which they love discovering,” Ms Hunt said.
“The old playground was worn out and had inadequate shade, there really was very little to offer the children so this project has had a huge impact.”
Designed in conjunction with the centre’s staff, children and families the playground features:
- Extensive gardens and hidden places to explore
- A rock wall, climbing logs, rambling slope and terraced rockery
- A riverbank with a waterfall, rustic bridge and shallow splash pool
- A mud kitchen with running water
- A double layer of soft-fall beneath the turf, to ensure safe landings
The new environment encourages children to explore and engage with the playground’s natural elements with less use of toys and equipment.
“When moved into the space the children explored for hours. We purposely did not put out any toys or equipment to allow them time to become familiar with the space.
“It took about four weeks before they started to look for additional toys which showed just how much they were able to utilise the natural elements, using rocks and logs to climb on, small pathways to meander through and hide from each other.
“The design and features encourage children to build their muscles and improve their balance and co-ordination. It’s a safe space but still offers children many challenges.”
The learning opportunities offered by the playground are highlighted by the way nursery children have used the space, without a reliance on toys.
“Our nursery children adore climbing up the terraced garden. It is challenging yet they have successfully navigated the area, assessing the risk themselves before gingerly climbing back down.
“We feel the space supports children’s sense of autonomy and agency – they are able to make decisions for themselves, create and invent games without manufactured toys and take pleasure in the natural environment.”
The playground has been warmly received by parents too, many of whom have been with the centre for more than five years.
“We’re so happy to have been able to offer this amazing new space to all families, but especially the families who’ve been with us so long. It’s fantastic to reward them with this reinvestment in our centre.”