Playground Renovation for Dear Elementary

May 15, 2018

Dear Elementary, the oldest schoolhouse in the Richmond R-XVI School District, serves approximately 250 students in PreK, Kindergarten and first grade. The school was due for some updates, including a playground renovation. Funded by a tax levy approved in 2015, the renovation was completed in two phases.

Playground Problems to Address

The playground was located away from the school building. Every day, it could take teachers 5 to 10 minutes to walk the students from the school building, down 20 stairs to get to the playground and then 5 to 10 minutes to get back into school. This drastically cut into recess time for the children.

The playground also had wood chips and a regular grass area, which meant that when it rained there was lots of mud. Weather could sometimes keep the kids indoors.

ABcreative helped the school come up with a plan to address these problems.

Moving the Playground

The school decided to move the playground to an empty asphalt area closer to the building. This entailed adding new playground equipment to the area and using artificial turf, Playground Grass by ForeverLawn. By doing this,

  • The children’s recess no longer needs to be cut short.
  • The artificial grass meant they always have a place to go to outside unless it is too cold.
  • Children with mobility disabilities can access the playground easier.

“The artificial grass means that the run-off goes much quicker and even after a rain, it is dry enough for the kids to play on,” said principal Piper Peterson.

Adding Elements of Play

The playground features all seven elements of play, including 3-dimensional rope climbers, and options for spinning, swinging, sliding and balancing.

Rope climbers help kids develop problem-solving skills and overall muscular strength as they navigate and use their arms and legs to climb up or get to the slide.

Dear Elementary - OTannenbaumThe O’Tannenbaum spinning tree enables kids to climb and spin at the same time. Except for its trunk, the entire tree rotates. It doesn’t spin too fast and slows down quick.

The big rubber membrane surface with its low access height enables children with special needs to join the fun and it provides a place where kids can sit while spinning. Kids can sit and spin, climb or help push it to spin.

A 30” mound was built into the playground and the kids went wild over this. This technique has become more popular as a way to build play value using the playground’s topography and add visual interest.

The mound, built of foam and topped with Playground Grass artificial turf, provides a soft area for kids play on.

The kids love this. They can roll on it, sit on it, roll down, run up and down, and it gives them a place to lay down and rest but not be totally flat on the ground. I’d like to add another mound and more grass.    

— Piper Peterson, Principal, Dear Elementary

Funserts are another way to add play value. These colorful predesigned inserts stand out from artificial turf, adding excitement and fun to playground designs. They enable you to maximize creativity on the playground, again, creating play value where there might not have been any.

The ABcreative Experience

 Tim at ABcreative was easy to work with. He recommended doing the mound, which the kids just love. I didn’t know what kinds of playground equipment were now available and he was there to answer our questions. Rope climbing equipment was new to us, but the teachers really like it because it’s transparency makes supervision easier.

— Piper Peterson, Principal, Dear Elementary

Photo Credits: Many of the photos were provided to us by Dear Elementary.


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