The children at Gunnedah Preschool are embracing their huge, new playground.
Construction on the long-term project started in August 2017 on a double house block purchased in 2016.
The block is about 1000 square metres and backs onto the pre-school, with the pre-existing playground now co-existing with the new playground.
The new playground has a bike path, timber fort, climbing frame, dry creek bed, digging patch, totem poles, bush tucker garden, cubby house and undercover COLA.
Board member and pre-school parent Liz Morris said there are still a few things to be done in the playground but the majority of the work was completed and was approved by the Department of Education and Training in January.
“We’re really happy with what we achieved. It’s been a massive road to get it but it’s been really rewarding,” she said.
“Discussions with the staff about what we wanted to do and seeing it come together has been better than we imagined.
“The playground speaks for itself. It’s incredible. It’s a massive achievement for the pre-school and to be able to provide these facilities for our children.”
Pre-school director Malcolm Frend said it gives the kids “a whole range of different areas of their development to work on”.
“We’ve got increased social interaction happening and dramatic play with the introduction of the cubby house,” he said.
“We’ve got a sensory path, which has been very popular with our kids with special needs.
“The climbing fort has been good for gross motor skills and having the extra space has been good for the kids to spread out and explore.”
READ MORE: Playground project for pre-school
Educational leader Kate Olsen said the playground has simplified play time.
“We’ve just found we really don’t have to put a lot of resources out. We’re finding that the children are just enjoying the natural resources,” she said.
“We do lots of games down on the grassy area like What’s the time, Mr Wolf?
“Having this space on the cooler days has allowed us to have indoor and outdoor time.”
Ms Olsen said the dry creek bed has been “really popular” this week.
“We just watched it trickle down,” she said.
“It took about an hour to get all the way to the end and the children wanted to know where the water went from there. We’ve been doing that once a day this week.”
The children initiated change in the cubby house, telling the educators what they would like in their “little house”. The cubby now has pots, cupboards, a table, chairs, curtains and a welcome mat.
The totem poles have become a meeting point for the children and represent the different classroom groups – kangaroo (Bandaarr), echidna (Bigibilia), emu (Dhinawan), frog (Ghindjurra) and brolga (Burraalga).
“They were actually painted by a local Indigenous man from Gunnedah, [Jack Conlan],” Ms Olsen said.
There are plans for more activity stations in the original playground such as a mud kitchen, a bigger chicken cage and a water station. Ms Olsen said a pre-existing cubby house alongside the pre-school building will be opened up as a “quiet area” with bean bags.
Ms Morris said the pre-school is now looking for sponsorship for the playground.
Related reading: Pre-school enrolments on the up in Gunnedah | Video
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