early childhood

Primary Colors ELC - Dowd St.

BEFORE - A typical playground.

AFTER - A multi-functional Outdoor Learning Environment

Primary Colors on Dowd Street in Downtown Durham was due for an upgrade. The client was eager to take their small space and convert it from a typical playground to an Outdoor Learning Environment. Working with small spaces is one of Lift[ED]'s specialties. In this design, we were able to provide a trike track, stage, multipurpose lawn, a storage shed, water play, sand play, two playhouses, and garden areas. The space that a few pieces of playground equipment consumed was more than enough to provide a diverse environment that supports multiple types of play and learning. 

Primary Colors ELC - Dixon Rd.

Primary Colors is a 5 star licensed child care facility in Durham, NC. The owner, director, and staff are all committed to the idea that outdoor play is a critical component of childhood development. Their renovated outdoor learning environment supports their preschool classroom's curriculum, providing for extensions outside. Kids get to spend time outside, building, balancing, riding, and learning with their whole body instead of being cooped up in the classroom. Outdoor time here is fun and the learning doesn't stop, it gets amplified by nature.

Schematic design by Jesse Turner and Sarah Konradi at the Natural Learning Initiative
Design follow-through, construction drawings, and construction admin by Lift[ED].
 

Durant Road Preschool

Durant Road Preschool is a 5 star licensed childcare center in Raleigh, NC. Our goals for the transformation of their preschool playground into an outdoor learning environment were to create synergy across the site. We kept existing playground equipment in place, weaving a curvy 5' wide path throughout the site. The project includes many new features, but also re-purposed several existing manufactured play items such as playhouses, toy cars, and shade structures. We've taken a space that had all the common playground components and created a unique naturalized outdoor learning environment. We added a water play area with a hand pump, a grass maze, a central lawn, the "trike track", a bridge, and many natural products such as locust balance beams provided by Wild Child Workshop.

Hope Valley Preschool

It’s oddly calm, there’s no wide open running. It just feels calmer and safer, like being in a park

Hope Valley Preschool, in Durham NC, is a 5 star licensed child care facility serving children 6 weeks to 5 years old. We began our relationship when the owner contacted us to see if we could help with some erosion problems. This quickly developed into a more meaningful project as we shared our expertise in creating vibrant exciting outdoor learning environments. The design solves the erosion problems as an integrated part of a well designed space for young children. We worked around existing equipment to provide a pathway system that keeps kids moving and protects the plantings from being trampled. According to staff, children's play is much more calm and organized while remaining active and fun.

Secret Garden

The Secret Garden was made for fun and designed to be functional for all generations of the family. The small stream has a potable water source for playtime and a recirculating source for general leisure. When it gets really hot, the dial gets turned to reveal pop-up sprayers, bubbling fountains, and cascading tunnels of water. The garden fits some of the best children’s garden features into a mere 100′ x 40′ area. Best of all, the “kid’s stuff” is actually just as much fun for the adults. There’s a fort building area hidden in the rhododendrons, a story telling chair (and newspaper reading chair) with a sacred circle of turf, a special bench made just for chillin’, hideouts and secret entrances all around.

That’s the lower area. On the hill behind you can explore the forest through boardwalks and nature trails. There’s a tree deck for relaxing in the upper canopy and a rope bridge that takes you to a slide which is threaded between the trees. Native plants line the trails and accent the hillside, inviting you to explore and enjoy being outside. Just for fun.

Sheep Harney Nature Hut

We worked with teachers, school administrators, and Earlyspace LLC to prepare design and construction drawings for the Sheep Harney Elementary School early childhood outdoor learning environment. The Nature Hut is a special component where kids will be provided with found natural objects to use in their play and learning activities.