Rocky Mountain Early Childhood
Conference 2023


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Bienenstock Natural Playground’s mission is to connect children to nature. We do this by creating outdoor learning and play spaces that empower educators to deliver high quality outdoor curriculum. We support children’s learning through active sensory-rich experiences while providing opportunities to problem-solve physically, socially, and academically. In our outdoor environments, the outdoors offers a place of mastery for all children.

We’re thrilled to be part of the Rocky Mountain Early Childhood Conference this year; Natasha and John will be at the Colorado Convention Center March 10-11th for the conference operating the Bienenstock Natural Playgrounds booth (#235). Please feel welcome to drop by and say hello; we’re happy to share projects, catalogues and insight regarding how you can enrich your facility and provide opportunities for child-led nature play.



About Bienenstock Natural Playgrounds

OutClass™ Early Learning Pods

We currently offer 7 “standard” Early Learning Pod™ variations. Click on an image to visit out OutClass™ Early Learning Pods page and learn more about each pod. If you wish to pursue a custom option you don’t see here, please visit our Custom OutClass™ information page. Our team is more than happy to discuss how we can best meet your facility’s needs.

OutClass™ Outdoor Classrooms

The OutClass™ outdoor classroom system offers a natural, flexible, and pedagogically sound approach to quickly scale up your classroom capacity outside to take the pressure off your teachers and school inside. Visit out OutClass™ Outdoor Classrooms page to learn more.

ECE & Childcare Portfolio Highlights


The Fort Erie Regional Childcare natural playground and outdoor learning environment offers children and educators alike a beautiful opportunity to engage with nature and hone their senses as they engage a in creative, gross and fine motor play. A sand and water area is complimented by wacky posts, a sideways tree, hill slide and seating area.

Project Background, Public Input and Goals:
The Fort Erie Regional Childcare Centre acquired an adjacent lot and made the decision to expand their parking lot and playground. The resulting playground space is a large “L” shape, with some parts of the space located much further from the building than others. A careful design resulted in a play space that best suits the needs of the educators and children. Pushing the gross motor play and climbing structures for preschoolers (the oldest children in the centre) means that the most energetic and active kids have the furthest to go during outdoor time. Keeping toddlers closer to the building maximizes the time they spent actually playing, and minimizes the time educators spend guiding the children from place to place. Sand and water play in both the preschool and toddler playgrounds offers valuable sensory play for the kids. This also presents a unique design and construction challenge of what to do with the excess soils created from excavating for the sand areas. Including rolling hills and an embankment slide in the design allowed our construction crew to keep much of the excavated soils on site. Doing so added visual interest to the site and helped keep construction costs lower.

Fort Erie Regional Childcare


A series of winding pathways lead you through the sensory oasis at Kingsway; a hill slide, wacky post sand log tunnel greet students entering the environment for the first time. The sand area with the water stump is a great place for sensory engagement, allowing children to dig, mix, scoop and pour. It’s a fantastic spot for exploration, making fun sculptures and creating “sand pies.” It also has a small stump table allowing children to have the choice to stand rather than sit in the sand while playing. There is a mirror mounted on the side of the building for children to watch themselves dig and play. The trees and shrubs transform the space providing shade, mottled light, fragrant breezes, wildlife engagement and loads of loose parts.

Project Background, Public Input and Goals:
Located near a major transportation artery inToronto, all the surfaces of the former play space were paved and terraced to remove the slope. The walls of the building acted as amplifiers of the road noise, rendering the space unsuitable for conversation or quiet play. Our new design celebrated the grade change, shifted to rolling and organic topography and surfaces and maximized tree and shrub cover to bu er noise. We built a visually stimulating solid fence of acrylic panels, blackboards, murals and plant material so the children could see the road but not feel as if their space was dominated by the noise. The result was a drop in decibel levels of 500 percent and a transformation in the children’s behaviour. Teachers’ job satisfaction, program enrolment and academic performance all exhibited improvements in key indicators.

Kingsway College


Located on the east side of the Branscombe Mental Health Centre, the natural playground and garden incorporates a multitude of natural features, including trees, grasses and shrubs, a waterfall anda wide range of hand-carved natural wood furniture.These include seating areas carved into logs and a big rope strung between two massive fallen trees of species specifically chosen to prevent decay. There are also various-sized pockets: Spaces the children undergoing mental health treatment can seek out in which to play, talk or simply be quiet. The garden also includes a sandy play area, and located at its heart is an Indigenous healing circle designed with input from local elders. Adding to the hands-on experience, we’ve laso installed a musical soundscape area with a hanging amadinda, a wind chime fence and whale drum.

Project Background, Public Input and Goals:
A truly unique space for play and nature therapy was developed after a year of consulting, fundraising, and working in a true collaboration with the therapeutic staff at Pathstone Mental HealthCentre. Our team also worked diligently with the local Indigenous community, children, youth, staff ,board, and donors that make this facility the best of its kind in Ontario. The result is beautiful, lush, rich, private, and nurturing space that couldn’t be more appropriate to compliment the staff  at Pathstone’s efforts. This is a space for all people of all ages and abilities. A space that acknowledges the healing power of a rich sensory experience in nature and the value of the natural environment.

Pathstone Mental Health