Cassie St. Amand is a passionate advocate for children and their development in natural outdoor play spaces. Spending time in New Zealand, Cassie has adopted a pedagogy that is practically commonplace there, and has been diligently working at bringing it over to her community in Toronto, Ontario.
Cassie is a huge supporter of Bienenstock Natural Playgrounds, our stance on outdoor play and learning, and a vocal representative of play that connects children to nature. We truly consider Cassie a friend and are so grateful that she took the time to have this simple conversation with us.
Heron's Head Nature Area
Designed by Bienenstock Natural Playgrounds and input from the local community who drew their ideal play areas, the new space allows children to negotiate risk through exploring nature, climbing, and balancing. Locally sourced natural elements including boulders and tree stumps provide the materials for creativity, dramatic play, and imagination. Winding, accessible pathways mix with playful shortcuts, leading to a gathering space or outdoor classroom with seating made from repurposed logs. Surrounded by native vegetation, the exploration area offers high lookout spots for spying birds and other wildlife.
Inspired by the Children & Nature movement to get kids to unplug and reconnect with the outdoors, the San Francisco Recreation & Park department and the Port of San Francisco teamed up with SF Children & Nature and Bienenstock Natural Playgrounds to create a unique space where kids and families can gather, create, and play.
California Academy Of Sciences
Situated outdoors beneath beautiful old-growth cypress trees overlooking Golden Gate Park, Wander Woods offers multi-sensory discovery and learning opportunities through areas dedicated to crawling, climbing, and other imaginative play activities. Winding pathways take visitors on an exploration of the garden, revealing a hands-on area where guests can build their own den from natural materials, a space for nature-driven creativity and honing fine motor skills, a log tunnel to crawl through, and a hillside nest and perch that provides a thrilling new view of the entire garden.
Constructed from locally-sourced materials like salvaged tree trunks, Wander Woods features a variety of stroller- and wheelchair-accessible playspaces that provide visitors an immersive way to explore the natural world. From observing a bug crawl to balancing on a log, Wander Woods promotes inquiry-based activities that nurture collaboration and complex reasoning. Although Wander Woods is ideal for children up to 12 years of age, guests of all ages can reflect, recharge, and reawaken their connection to nature in the Academy’s newest outdoor space.
Holy Name of Jesus Early Learning and Child Care Centre
We had a chance to chat with Rachel Ward, Pedagogical Lead at Holy Name of Jesus Early Learning and Child Care Centre, to get her perspective on what this play space means for her children. Seeing the engagement, creativity, and imagination come from the children is smile-inducing. The gleeful sounds of their play language developing right in front of our eyes is a breath of fresh air.
Holy Name of Jesus Early Learning and Child Car Centre has been a great partner to work with on this winter installation. The new Log Fort has instantly become a shady place for the children to gather with one another or escape in solitude. Our experienced teams build like this all year long so the children can enjoy it in all seasons as well.
St. Vincent de Paul Child Centre,
We just stopped in at St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Child Care Centre in Hamilton, Ontario to see how things are looking a few weeks post-installation. When we arrived the first time, we were greeted by a blank concrete canvas, and the install team went to work transforming the space.
Coming back to these spaces to get the “after” shots is always so satisfying – especially when there are kids climbing all over everything. We also got to chat with Sarah to get her perspective on what this new play space means for the children.