Highland Plaza United Methodist Preschool

Beyond our original certified NEC, our natural Playscape, which all of our children share, we have three outdoor classrooms – The Container Gardens, The Wetlands, and The Courtyard. Each of these is directly accessible from the two classrooms that share each one.

While we were most fortunate to have outdoor classrooms already established, they were not designed for the heavy use they saw during the pandemic. We have spent the past year redesigning them, making repairs, enhancing and upgrading their amenities, and putting the shine on each of their unique personalities.

Some of the similarities they share are water play, musical instruments, gardening opportunities, cozy spots, trees!, mud- and potion-making centers, and art stations. But the magic happens through the distinctive interpretation of these shared characteristics and the stand-out features of each.

The Container Gardens
Shared by our 3 and 4 year old classes.
Stand-out features:
Bird Blind
Rattan-woven Tree Hut
Boot Racks
Outdoor wash-up sink
Rain Barrel

The Wetlands
Shared by our 2 year old and 2 1/2 -3 1/2 year old mixed age classes.
Stand-out features:
Cast concrete Alligator
Imagination Fabric swing
Boulder reading circle
Slap Organ and Wooden Xylophone
Front Porch Deck
Shady picnic area

The Courtyard
Shared by our 4 and 5 year old class and our Art Studio
Stand-out features:
The Wall which includes two easel panel sections, a magnetic section, a section with
clay finger labyrinths, and a Gabion cage section that houses our 22-23 Legacy
Rocks, a steel drum musical gate, and a chimes musical gate
Ladder garden and raised bed garden
Water Tower and Troughs
Pebble Harp

Future plans for a very special place in the front yard of our preschool named Plaza Park are already under construction. It will include an active play area on one end, an adult and child picnic area with a Hobbit Hide in the center, and a pathway of three interlocking circles replete with a large butterfly garden, sitting boulders and two apple trees.

The vision statement to the designer was thus: The front yard space will be shared by all of our children and their families, giving it a sense of community and respite that the word Park implies. Even though we want to include play elements, we want to bear in mind that it is the front yard of our preschool and makes the first impression for passers by. We want it to look artful, sculptural, beautiful, and unexpected, being educational through its nature-based design, and to invite active play, while not at all resembling a traditional playground. Stay tuned for next year’s report and the pictorial reveal!