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Playscape

Our award-winning Playscape is our backyard paradise. Children can run, climb, slide, hike, dig, sift, pulverize, bounce, pour, balance, step, hop, draw, mold, explore, and more. The adventures are endless, options bountiful, and nature abundant.

 

Our Playscape is a certified Nature Explore Classroom and the 2013 Southern Early Childhood Association’s winner of their Exemplary Outdoor Classroom contest. (See our Awards page for all the details). While it’s wonderful to be recognized and honored for our imaginative and creative design, watching the children immersed in nature is the real reward for our hard work. 

 

Taking a tour around our Playscape is like taking a trip around the Chattanooga area. All of our elements represent the familiar landmarks of our beautiful river city. The centerpiece is the Tennessee River. The soothing sound of its rushing water covers our enchanting garden with its peacefulness. The children can enjoy a picnic on the RiverPark patio, where one group of children drew an enlargement of our logo and impressed it in the wet cement. Music comes alive in the Chattanooga Symphony, which features an Ipe wood marimba and Djembe drum among the many instruments. Performances can be watched from the RiverBend Amphitheater. The Ruby Falls reading cave is a cozy place to look at books. Our tire pony swings and authentic horse saddle await riders in our interpretation of the Coolidge Park Carousel. Maybe a stop at Lake Chickamauga will be enjoyed as the tourist plays with the Waterfront Water Cannons. Our Lookout Mountain tire climbing wall can be ascended, the Walnut Street Walking Bridge crossed, or the bear hunt trail hiked through the Great Smoky Mountains. The sandy river bottom, muddy river banks, and a cave can be explored in the Tennessee Aquarium area. Here fossils can be excavated and animal pawprints identified. Artistic pursuits can be followed in the Arts District outdoor art studio. Amazing views can be seen from the Incline Railway Station House. This fanciful trek ends in a downhill race on the twin Alpine Slides. 

 

We know you’ll enjoy the photos here, and that you’ll taste a bit of the flavor of our Playscape. But better yet, we invite you to come for a visit. Climb our mountain, listen to the water cascading, enjoy the view from atop the mountain, eat a picnic, pick up pine cones and acorns, or run down a hill. Mother Nature awaits!

NATURE PATH 

Our Nature Path was blazed by former preschooler Gage Taylor in 2012 as his project to earn his Eagle Scout rank. Gage, his scout troop, and his family cut the 400’ looped trail, made log and branch borders, covered the trail with gravel, erected split rail fences in two areas, planted rhododendron and crape myrtle, placed tree identification markers, re-purposed blocks from a wall into our campfire pit, and discovered a naturally formed tree arbor that we made into a sitting area by adding cement mushroom stools. Gage worked with chainsaw sculptor Stephen Pearson to create our beautiful trailhead sign.

We are able to observe seasonal changes in the woods when walking the path. Our children have seen a box turtle, a rabbit, a woodpecker, squirrels, and birds on their walks. Summer campers sometimes roast hot dogs at the fire pit. Our annual Family Campfire event occurs here each fall, as well as exciting sensory experiences during our Pumpkin Festival. 

CONTAINER GARDENS 

The area behind our Starshine Friends and Sunshine Gang classrooms is a wonderful area to grow flowers, herbs, vegetables, blueberries, and more. The rain barrel collects water running off of the shed and provides a handy resource for watering the thirsty plants. The Starshine Friends’ mudpie kitchen is a favorite place to cook a mean dirt stew. Children can move their creations from the Mud Kitchen to the storefront area as well. The observation deck can transform into the foundation for a log cabin, be a stage for children learning how bees communicate through dancing, or whatever motivates the children’s explorations next. 

WETLANDS

In the outdoor area adjacent to the Twinklers and Moonbeams classes you can take a walk on the wild side through tall grasses that form a meandering maze. Along the way you can balance across a log, tiptoe around an alligator basking in the sun, hide out in the vine hut, or take a break on one of the boulders. Raised planter beds await our young gardeners’ green thumb touches. The discovery table might be a worm farm this month or a sod farm next month. Shhhh! Don’t wake the gator!

COURTYARD

The Courtyard is a place to attract critters to feast on the giant tree stump by putting out seeds and corn, paint at the easel on a sunny day, yarn bomb one of the trees, watch the apple tree change through the seasons, plant flowers, or work on a clay sculpture. With doors connected to both the Atelier and the Rainbow Kids classrooms, it allows small groups to come together around the cement table for further investigation on an emerging interest.  

Twigs Atelier

Welcome to our outdoor studio space. Creative opportunities are supported with the array of traditional and nontraditional equipment and materials presented. Tables, chairs, and step stools, along with tabletop easels, clipboards, paper and markers provide the artist with basic supplies. Baskets of shells, seed pods, pebbles, and pinecones wait to be put to imaginative design. Our Atelierista regularly adds unusual materials to combine with the natural collections the children encounter here.