If you are looking for some room to play, then get on over to Richmond’s Terra Nova playground! The playground is an extension of the Terra Nova Rural Park and thoughtfully designed by Hapa Collaborative. The entire area is free of bright plastics common in less imaginative playground designs and a fantastic example of a naturalized play space.
The playground has been open for several years now and word has spread about the amazing play value of this play space so it can get busy! We have found the least busy time to visit is right after school, 3:30pm or so. As a parent and educator who values outdoor play, especially in natural, inspiring spaces- I can tell you this million dollar playground is worth checking out! But leave the dog at home, as a protected area, pets are not welcome.
So what’s all the fuss about natural playgrounds? Well, experts in outdoor play tell us:
- natural playgrounds encourage imaginative, open ended play.
- children who are given plenty of outdoor play time are able to focus more in school and see improvements in their ability to problem solve
- there is a high correlation between outdoor play and reduced anxiety and depression in children
- outdoor play improves overall wellness and health in children
- natural, open ended play spaces teach the brain to be flexible which leads to efficient problem solving later in life
- playing out of doors increases opportunities for positive social interaction, communication skills, group cohesion and teamwork
- unstructured play leads to improved outcomes in all academic areas, specifically expressive language and math reasoning.
The park has unique and beautiful features that encourage all those findings, as well as strength building, risk taking and physical literacy. Check out this slide! It’s a long way up, but loads of fun to come down while encouraging risk taking, problem solving and cooperation. We know that going up the slide can have physical benefits, but this slide is best for going down only! The enclosed tube makes it dangerous for climbing up when unsuspecting sliders are coming down.
The log jam was designed to mimic nature and is super fun to scramble over. The experience of climbing over the logs encourages problem solving, full body physical exertion and balance.
The most popular feature when we visit is likely the zip line, but the swings, ropes course and slide are awesome too! There is a wide open space by the swings that is called the paddocks. Historically, it was a preserved space from the original paddocks that were located on this heritage site. You can totally see tying up a horse to these fence posts (and the designers cleverly added steps to the fences so young cowboys and girls can climb right on up and over the fences!)
There are tables to picnic at, portable toilets, garbage cans and a bike rack to lock up your trailer and bike if you’ve come via the dyke trails scenic route. The dyke boasts inspiring views and a front row seat to the goings on at YVR airport. If you have an aviation lover in your home, picnic on one of the benches while watching the planes come and go!
Look for informative signs on site that explain the layout of the vast site and age recommendations for each play area!
I totally recommend Terra Nova’s Adventure Play Park. There is lots of room to play here and we hope to see you there soon! #goplayoutside
Looking for more recommendations on ways to get outside and play with your kids? Check out my Pinterest board of outdoor play ideas from around the web: