Design Star: Dry Creek Beds in a Preschool Playscape

12th October, 2011 - Posted by - 2 Comments

A 'flooded" creek bed at a US Head Start Center.

Editor’s Note: It’s no secret that I am crazy about natural playscapes for preschoolers and children of all ages. For my money, one of the most interesting and interactive features you can add to an outdoor environment is a dry creek bed. Not only will it inspire rich play adventures but countless math, science and movement opportunities.

One of our favorite bloggers. Jenny Kable, shares her thoughts on dry creek beds below. We would love to hear from folks who have one in their playscape. ~ Bethe 

If you’d told me that one day I would dream of having a dry creek bed I would have said you had rocks in your head.

But dream I do: visions of a dry creek bed meandering down the slope at preschool just waiting for the kids to explore, imagine and create.

I’d like to share the dream and open up my inspiration file of dry creek bed pictures because it seems I’m not the only one with dry creek beds on my mind.

Squiggle Mum wants one in her backyard:

dry creek bed – yes, I’m serious. I’d love a rocky narrow “creek” running down the hill. It will only run in pouring rain, but that’s fine with me!

And Sherry and Donna from Irresistible Ideas for Play Based Learning are ready to create one at preschool:

Okay it won’t flow with water like your creek (unless the rains come of course) but a dry creek bed will still be awesome! We’re so excited that we spent several hours yesterday sourcing suitable plants, rocks and pebbles for the project.

Who can blame them?  If you watched kids play outdoors for a while to see what interested them or sustained their play chances are the answer would be:

  • sand
  • mud
  • water
  • rocks
  • sticks, leaves, seeds
  • bugs
  • logs
  • plants / gardening

A dry creek bed can bring all these natural elements to your backyard or playground in one irresistible package.

So ladies, and anyone else who would like to share the dream, here is some inspiration for you:

This one has a water source from a water tank:

So there is the opportunity for water play, even if it hasn’t been raining:

Natural slopes work really well with dry creek beds:

Can’t you just picture what the kids could do with dump trucks; shovels; containers; dinosaurs; insects….
I also dream of a water pump:

They are relatively inexpensive, seemingly easy to install (have a look here and here) and with endless opportunities to let the children play!

Stay tuned… ~ Jenny


Blogger Bio: Jenny Kable is an early childhood educator, teaching and learning from children in a progressive preschool setting nestled in the beautiful Australian bush. Her blog, Let The Children Play, is filled with wonderful ideas and inspiration for educators, caregivers and parents alike. Jenny is a favorite blogger around here! You can also follow her on Twitter@preschoolplay.


(images from Tessa Rose Landscape Design)

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October 14th, 2011 at 11:39 am    

I would love to have a dry creek bed — and a forest, and some chickens and goats — All these pictures are beautiful — sigh, I need a bigger yard.


October 14th, 2011 at 11:51 am    

Sounds perfect, Cheryl! And chickens and goats — can you imagine how thrilled the kids would be?! :-) Bethe

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