Natural Play

For the past year and a half, we’ve been working with a few other faculty families on creating a natural playground at the school where Caleb teaches.

We really wanted to go with a natural playspace instead of a prefabricated one for several reasons.  It looks nice.  It fosters creativity in the way the kids play.  It’s cheaper.  And it’s something reproducible… that the students can build themselves when they return to their home countries using whatever materials they can find on the side of the road, just like we did!

It’s been so fun to see an empty lot full of trash…


…turn into a bona fide playspace!


The only big piece of equipment we purchased was the hill slide, which after months of research and visiting shops all over Lebanon, seemed like the best option.


All of the other play pieces were built mostly with materials we found on the side of the road!  Even the hill was created using boulders from a construction site down the hill.

There are so many ways to use old tires (besides burning them and blocking roads!)  We used them for planters,

IMG_3775tire swings,


and a balance/jumping course.


With a little paint, dirty old tires become a colorful, inviting toy!


We used old wood that we found around campus for more balance beams,


a bench for parents to sit in the shade and watch their kids play, and a bus!  (still working on attaching the steering wheel :))


And no DIY space would be complete with using the ever versatile pallets, which we collected from a shop around the corner to build a purposefully half-finished house that the kids have had blast putting their own creative finishing touches on!


We also used pallets to create a small preschool sand area with places to hang the toys.


We painted an old storage depot with chalkboard paint to add a little more color to the space.


Caleb used his landscaping background to irrigate and landscape the whole space with native plants that are both green and pretty (a rarity here!) and useful… herbs the students can use to cook with as well as plants that keep away the snakes.  We still have several ideas of elements to add, but for now it’s great fun watching the kids enjoy their new playground!!


10 thoughts on “Natural Play

  1. I LOVE this Nicolette! Our church is doing a sermon series called “For The Love of Money” and the first week we talked about contentment. This is such a great visual on learning to be content with and making good use of the items you have on hand. I love it. Way to go! And the pop of color on the tires and balance beams looks so fun and inviting! Any child would want to go play. You and Caleb did a great job. Way to go mom and dad!

    • Thanks, Elizabeth… it’s hilarious how my girls now see trash on the side of the road and ask if we should pick it up!! :)

  2. That is such an awesome result after so much work over quite a long period of time. It’s such a contrast to what we are used to: shop on-line, make a purchase and have it delivered and installed (often by someone else) by the next week. What a great lesson to the kids about a true “labor of love.” I hope we get to see it first-hand some day!

  3. How great to see the (nearly) finished playground after all this time and hard work. I love the way it creates community among the students and families. Much theology will be worked out in that space!!

    • Hehe, I think it will forever be (nearly) finished! :)
      I just wished we lived closer and could be a bigger part of the community. It’s really exciting to see and hear about the students and families coming together. :)

  4. It has been fun to watch this project from beginning to end – you guys have done a great job! It is fun to see how you use all of your talents and interests in life and ministry. Love and miss you!

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