Elmwood Camp Playgrounds
(click to enlarge)
A ramp for runners and special needs kids...
...and another way up
An old sail boat
A sand river runs through Elmville.
The toddler zone is a castle with a meeting circle mote.
Waterworks - a cascading series of troughs for serious water play
Because of Snoopy and the Red Baron, kids still know what a bi-plane is.
Train at Elmville Station - photo by M. Raik

With the help of skilled staff members, Schoolworks rebuilt the outdoor play facilities at a New York day camp/preschool over a period of 3 years.

The first area we were shown was an early childhood play village lovingly called Elmville which consisted of a hodgepodge of store bought miniature houses and home-made shacks assembled over the years by teaches and maintenance folks. We immediately concluded that what was needed was a bit of urban renewal starting with some city planning.

The town was laid out around a central square which was surrounded by a sand river, a canal shaped sand linear sand box that ended in an octagonal pond which was itself surrounded by a planter box. Some wooden bridges spanned the river to connect the village with other parts of the playground. One section of the river was later transformed into a painted city map on which kids played with toy cars and trains.

To round out the new village plan we built an entrance arch, two play houses, a grocery store, a fire station climber and a train station, complete with ticket window, waiting room and cafe. We later added a perpetually arriving or departing choo-choo. The next year a toddler play and story area rounded out the development.

Schoolworks is not normally in the habit of designing literal representations of the adult world, preferring to leave the details for kids to imagine. But with the addition of lots of toys, props and loose parts this kind of make-believe stage set can be a rich source of creative and fun play.