For Immediate Release Media contact: Barb DeGroot, 952-443-1459
New 'natural' play site is geared to infants through preschoolers
Chanhassen, Minn. (June 6, 2012) - Increasingly, research shows that "greentime" (hours spent outdoors in nature) is essential to children's healthy development and wellbeing.
A new play area at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum - the Green Play Yard - will immerse young children in the joys of discovering nature's wonders, from fragrant plants to woolly caterpillars to climb-on logs and sand and water play areas.
The Green Play Yard opens Saturday, June 16, with public grand-opening activities scheduled from noon to 2 p.m. Located adjacent to the Arboretum's Marion Andrus Learning Center, the Green Play Yard features three play zones for different age groups: preschool area (ages 3-5 years); toddler area (16-33 months); infant area (0-16 months).
The infant area includes a "crawl-along garden," shady swing and peek wall. In the Toddler Area, youngsters will find a "hopping stump," woodland path, tunnel, rolling hill and several digging places. Kids ages 3-5 will delight in the playhouse and stage, log canoe, sand and water play area and "Crabapple corner."
The aim is to reframe and revitalize the outdoor play environment of young children as a significant contributor to their healthy development and learning. A play area with diverse plantings and natural features encourages children's observation, curiosity and science learning. It provides settings and materials to use for developing vocabulary, shapes and patterns, measurement and creative dramatic play.
The Arboretum's Green Play Yard will serve as a model natural play area that can be replicated by day care centers, Headstart programs and neighborhood parks. As part of a community outreach effort, the Arboretum will partner with urban organizations that serve preschool children with the least access to natural environments.
Robin Moore, an internationally recognized expert on the design of play, learning and educational environments for children, and his design team led a participatory design session with Arboretum staff to create a schematic layout for the Green Play Yard.
The Minnesota Landscape Arboretum is located 9 miles west of Interstate 494 on Highway 5 in Chanhassen. It is part of the College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences at the University of Minnesota. Admission: $12 adults; free for ages 12 & younger & members.