Schools across New Zealand are beginning shift their priorities from not only developing their playground, but utilising their entire outdoor spaces, offering more learning and play opportunities for their students. By looking at the school outdoor area as a whole, you can achieve better flow, increase play, and gain additional learning, cultural, and social elements into your school.
Simple ideas can have a huge impact, and so to help you get started, we have put together a few landscaping ideas for schools that you can put to use in your school.
Decks and Platforms Around Trees
Building a surrounding deck that can be utilised in multiple ways creates the possibility of games, performances, outdoor teaching, drama, and social activities. Your tree will provide shade to the area, protecting students from the sun, whilst the platform makes the area cleaner, converting dirt patches where grass ordinarily does not grow.
Adding in a couple of lines to concrete asphalt can be a great way to add some fun and colour to your school. A few lines can create places for handball, court sports, bike tracks, and cognitive mapping games. This allows children to put into practice their creative thinking skills, using their imaginations to dictate their outdoor time.
Colourful markings and shapes can also be used to tell a story. Figures of nature, animals, traditional motifs, can really connect students with the values of the school and the environment around them.
Butterfly gardens don’t have to be time consuming. Once established in a sheltered spot, you can simply let the students plant some attractive flowers, add some decorative elements and a source of water such a small bowl, and you’ve got yourself a beautiful butterfly garden where your students can watch the small creatures bask in the sun. Landscaping elements such as these helps the students to build an element of care and respect with nature. It allows for great educational opportunities as well.
Turning Existing Walls into Climbing Walls
Turning blank walls into a climbing walls is simple. Not only does it make the wall itself more interesting, but it can really help develop motor skills, and adds a fun climbing challenge for your students. Adding a climbing wall though does require safety surfacing where the fall height is greater than 600mm, but you can always attach the grips along the wall rather than up.
Growing fruit trees or starting a veggie garden is a great way to get students interested and enthusiastic about horticulture and learning about where their food comes from. It allows them to develop the practical skills needed to care for productive fruit trees, while providing the opportunity for them to learn about ecosystems, nutrition, and each other.
Bird Feeder Area
Bird feeders are another great way to connect students with nature and the creatures around them. You can place bird feeders all around your school, attracting wildlife of all sorts. This creates opportunities for learning about New Zealand’s vast bird life as well as builds respect between the students and the environment.
Garden areas can also be used to display artwork or sculptures, either created by the students or added to the grounds to add focal elements. Incorporating art in your outdoor areas encourage children to display their work and find creative inspiration in the space around them.
Artistic elements in your landscaping don’t have to stop at murals or paintings. Introducing elements of music into the outdoors gives students the opportunity to explore rhythm and melody. Music has so many cognitive benefits while also being incredibly fun. Adding chimes, symbols, xylophones, and drums allows students to get creative either individually or as a group. It can help develop motor skills as well as encouraging performance and encourages students to experiment in areas where they can express themselves.
Ball Target Wall
Adding a simple target to a blank space can be the beginning of many game ideas. From your classic dart target to a soccer goal design, all you need is a ball, and the student can do the rest. It can be utilized as a group or individually developing coordination, accuracy, and teamwork.
Incorporating balancing objects in your school is an excellent way to add more play and movement in your outdoor areas. They activate physical abilities and develop concentration. Inspiring creativity, and problem-solving skills. Balancing elements encourage groups and competitive play that starts off with simple movements and eventually progresses into more challenging exercises and tricks.
Check out our 25 ways to activate underutilised space in your school booklet. This guide walks you through some landscaping ideas you can implement in your school.