Opal School closed in 2021. You can continue to access these resources for free at teachingpreschoolpartners.org/resource-library/.

Imagining a New Playspace

Here's a sneak peek into some of the work the children from Opal 3 have been doing to imagine a new Opal playspace.

I just found out we are building more on to the playground. It feels like we are the most important class! I can’t wait until school is over to tell my mom. I’m also really excited to “spy” on the other kids and to meet the architect we get to interview the teacher/kids /adults and more. Wowie my heart is fluttering! It feels so fluttery it feels like its going to flutter out of me. I have so many ideas…  (excerpt from AB's writer's notebook after Susan introduced the project)


What do you imagine might have been most important to the children of the graduating Class of 2010 who created the playground model and corresponding video?  How can we honor their research and vision in our design?




What can you discover by "spying" on the playground?  How do children use the space and what places are they drawn to?  What kinds of play do you see and hear? 




What do you think is important for our landscape architect, Michelle Mathis, to know about the seven distinctive areas: Physical & Movement, Fantasy & Imaginative Play, Sports & Games, Garden, Water Play, Dramatic Play, Quiet Area?

IMG_0196It's important to have a relaxing spot because sometimes to read a book and depress is important and it's away for shy kids to get away from the wildness. (MC)


It's important to have a little quiet space, quiet is not loud.  We put a lot of photos in.. because they basically inspired me to what a quiet space would be like.  These inspired me because it’s like a shelter- nice quiet space to get out of the rain… I thought it would be nice have a loom in the quiet space to sit and weave.  I like a chair and plants…Plants for some people might help relax. (MB)

Dramatic play is important so the younger children can have a place to express themselves and put their selves in the perspectives of other people.  Their [Class of 2010] intention was to create a space where children can imagine and pretend.  (SS)

We were doing sports and games and we were thinking of all the sports and games we would be able to do. We decided we needed open space. We would need room for tetherball and a place to run around.  We were thinking that we could get a few board games for the quiet space. There could be a shelf in there to play with when you are there. (ED)


So physical movement, what I saw was we should have something for people to walk on and over, over the water, bridges.  I always like to jump on bridges and with bridges people could be on top or hide under.  We want a place for kids to climb up to and sit down, maybe to write in their notebooks. (KC)

I thought that instead of wasting a lot of money buying water to water plants if we had a stream or river that we would put tubes to make it go up to the garden and water the plants. (DR)

I was also thinking this sort of like a tee-pee made out of grass or beans and I thought it would be cool to have a little hideaway that you just could go under and also I was thinking the garden was really important if you have all these vegetables and place to put them like garden box we have now.  (SM)

Children play with water and sand because somethines they get their hands wet and go back to sandbox and make something.  Children collect water and take it in sand buckets, make a little hole and a stream going down to rocks in the bottom.  Water would be on the rocks probably.  To build waterfalls?  A pump would invite children.  (PK)

I thought arches were really important and then it would be into the garden.  I thought this would be really inspiring- stones, bridges and arches. (AJ)

We want something big that could be whatever kids want. Like a nest or a giant rock. (AB)

What inspires you?  What do you imagine for our new playspace?  Opal 3 would love to hear from you.

You can find out more about the Opal School Playspace project here:


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