Rocky Mountain Early Childhood
Conference 2022

 
 

Sign up for a Webinar, Download a Catalog or Start a Conversation and you could take home a Trough & Block System for your facility!

The troughs and blocks are great for problem-solving, social skills, and gross motor skills. Children can problem solve and motor plan how to best join the troughs together in order to make a waterway.

Natural loose parts are often used to manipulate the heights and angles of the troughs. Children can work on their own or within small groups. This is a great activity for children of all ages and abilities.

The troughs come in 3 lengths: 14 inches, 2 feet, and 3 feet. Digging and mixing are also an integral sensory engagement opportunity that utilize both gross and fine motor skills.

FREE EVENTBRITE WEBINARS

OutClass™ outdoor classrooms, patent pending, Outdoor Learning – Kindergarten & Childcare Learn to provide opportunities in your outdoor space.

The goal of the event is to create an outdoor area that provides sensory rich activities, big body play and loads of opportunities for children to connect, challenge and problem-solve.

We will focus on creating 2-3 different opportunities for unstructured, child led free play that focuses on motor-skills and creativity as well as an additional station for more formal learning that reinforces new skills in math, language and science.

Each webinar will focus on unstructured free play activities that support the weather as well as a structured activity. The lesson(s) will be presented to the group and discussed. Handouts will be emailed following the webinar.

Adam Bienenstock

Jill Bienenstock

DIRECTOR OF EDUCATION, RECE

About Bienenstock Natural Playgrounds

ECE & Childcare Portfolio Highlights

FORT ERIE REGIONAL
CHILDCARE

Overview:
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

KINGSWAY COLLEGE
EARLY LEARNING

Overview:
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

PATHSTONE
MENTAL HEALTH

Overview:
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