Thursday, June 02, 2011

I Can't Wait To Show You

We're just taking a one week summer vacation before the start of our summer program, although "break" isn't exactly the right word as the entire community has been scrambling to get moved out of our old place and into our new one at the center of the universe. It's been a massive effort so far and we still have a long way to go, but the cause for celebration yesterday was turning over our keys and being officially "moved out."

Here's the way we left the indoor part of our school yesterday. I've never shared many pictures here of what the entire indoor classroom looked like, mostly because I could never really find an angle or lighting or whatever to make it look like it really looked. And to be honest, this photo of the vacated space doesn't look a whole lot different to me than it did with furniture.

And a cool part about our new indoor classroom is that with the walls painted the same color and the same furniture in it, the new place doesn't look a lot different than the old one. Cool because it should make it an easy transition for the kids and their families.

The biggest transformation has been the outdoor space. When I arrived at Woodland Park, and for the first 7 years I taught there, our outdoor space looked more or less like this:

We would throw lots of toys out there and make the most of it, but it was a bare minimum as far as outdoor spaces go, and we found ourselves spending most of our time inside. About 16 months ago, we got excited about the idea of transforming our outdoor space, inspired by things we were finding online, and specifically Jenny at Let The Children Play, another of my Australian colleagues

We got to work, and 30 days later, with one big work party . . .

. . . we built an outdoor classroom.

Or rather, as we learned, we'd created the "bones" of an outdoor classroom, complete with a work bench, a full body sand pit, a cast iron water pump, a "little world," and a garden. Then, over the course of the next 15 months, as we used it, as we added meat to those bones, we shaped it into the place in which we were learning and playing right up until a few days ago.

Our deal with the former landlord was when we moved out, we needed to return the space to what it once was. So we did. And this is how our outdoor classroom looks this morning.

I'm now off to work on our new and only home in Fremont, where we are in the midst of a week-long "summer vacation" work party. There are no regrets. We're all looking forward. Many of our parents have shown up to work all morning and all day, then come back later to the new place, with their kids, to show them their new school. We're all so excited.

What an amazing community we have. How hard we've worked. What a lot we have learned. What amazing things we are doing. I can't wait to show you.

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Juliet Robertson said...

Fab photos. Great memories. Long live play outdoors!

Juliet Robertson said...

Go for a pond and canal systems in your new place!
Think 3D too...

Rusty Keeler said...

nice play space transformation!
love the water way....

Play for Life said...

WOW now that's a progressive education! It's only when I look back on the old photos against the new that you really see the journey you guys have been on and what an amazing journey it's been ... or should I say continues to be!
Donna :) :)

Let the Children Play said...

Thank you Tom for taking us on the journey with you and your kids. Your outdoor area has always been one of my absolute favorites and I feel kind of sad to see it go. But I love the look of your new space as well, so on to the next!


Wonderful memories there... while you move on physically, they will tag along with you. Enjoy your new adventure!

Oh, and our 'Children's Services Advisors' (the folks that enforce our C.S. regulations) would have had a field day in your outdoor play space! Multiple 'non-compliances' there. Ha! I am slowly but surely influencing the staff and committee that I work with to place what is in the children's best interests firmly before oppressive and restrictive regulations!