Woodburn Elementary Playscape Volunteers

Posted: September 19, 2017

JOY and HOPE are intimately connected and are powerful gifts we can give our students, perhaps the most powerful! One of the very best parts of being involved in public education is the JOY and HOPE students give us each and every day! The past few years we’ve featured stories that highlight the HOPE and JOY in our district. Let me know if you have any story suggestions. Thanks for helping us share the HOPE & JOY each week!

Thanks to this week’s guest author, Brian Graham, principal at Woodburn. Have a great week! Jeff


In January of 2016, the Woodburn PTO, PAWS, held a vision setting meeting. We asked the question, how can PAWS impact student experiences? High on the list was creating outdoor learning and nature play opportunities for students. Through collaboration with PAWS leadership, CSD Operations, Woodburn staff, and Jane Tesner-Kleiner from Nature+Play Designs, Woodburn was able to develop a master plan for outdoor learning and nature play.

Phase 1 of the project was to turn a weed bed into a nature play area for students. Jane, PAWS, and I worked together to elicit ideas and dreams from students, staff, and families. Using these ideas, Jane created a unique design for Woodburn, complete with log hoppers, imagination play tables, fairy/elf houses, a boat, benches, and animal statues. We acquired most of the materials through donations from community members and local businesses. All additional materials were covered through a CEF mini grant.

To build the nature play space, our grounds crew helped prep the site by digging a drench for the log hoppers and disconnecting the water sprinklers. Thank you Joe Voogt and Brenda Hubbard!!

Next, the PAWS Leadership team cleared the space of weeds on a Saturday morning. Finally, we invited families to participate in a work day to install all of the features in the design. In four hours of work, with help from over 40 parents, students, staff, and community members, our nature play space was completed. The space was ready for students to explore and enjoy on the last day of school. You might ask, why a nature play space? This space is unique from our other playground areas because it encourages exploration, imagination play, and physical balance.

Seeing the joy on our students faces is equal to joy that comes from watching our community serve, volunteer, and donate for our children. Thank you to all of the staff, families, and community members who made this project possible.

Brian Graham, Principal
Woodburn Elementary