Playscapes Correspondents are part roving reporters, part playground sleuths: seeking out the best play spaces, play ideas, and play people around the world to share here. Join us?

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Over the course of a decade as an environmental educator with Mass Audubon, I discovered a passion for play and playspaces. I’m now getting a Master’s of Landscape Architecture and look forward to creating opportunities for kids and grownups to play. I dig in the dirt, build stuff, and seek the unexpected in Boston, Mass.

Secret Shelters at Heritage Museums & Gardens, Sandwich, Mass., 2015

Heritage Museums & Gardens on Cape Cod offers something for everyone: botanic gardens, a vintage carousel, historic cars, a meditation labyrinth, and a natural playscape called Hidden Hollow (I wrote about it here). Art and nature are combined ...

Playing with Art and Nature at the Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, Mass.

If you can get to Salem, Mass. before September 2015, you can enjoy the Peabody Essex Museum’s exhibit Branching Out: Trees as Art. It’s part of the Art & Nature Center, which offers playful experiences that appeal to all ages. Here ...

Boston Public Library Copley Branch Renovation, 2015

Of all the improvements to the Boston Public Library’s central branch at Copley Square, I’m most impressed by the tunnels. As kids enter the Children’s Library, they look down and choose one of five colored lines to follow. The colors ...

Wet Quintet, Dan Sternof Beyer, Boston, 2011

As Boston approaches eight feet of snow for the season and wind chills plunge to -30 Fahrenheit, I’m happy to think about dancing barefoot in the Rose Kennedy Greenway’s Rings Fountain. Wet Quintet, an interactive sculpture by Dan Sternof ...

First Night Boston 2015

“Why is this SO FUN?” was a common question shouted on Boston Common on New Year’s Eve. The cause of the fun was a bunch of giant tetherballs containing rubber toys that lit up when agitated. “Why are we DOING THIS?” was another question ...

Ice Labyrinth at The Lawn on D, Boston, 2015

The Lawn on D has done it again, this time with 300 blocks of ice that form a walk-through maze. This experimental public space was the home of Swing Time and it’s the most exciting thing happening in Boston’s playscape scene. Designed by ...

Block Party, Department of Play, First Night Boston 2014

Here’s your mission: We’ve made contact with extraterrestrial life and they are visiting Earth! Build Boston’s first E.T. resort. Visitors to Boston’s First Night accepted the mission, using pink and black foam blocks. This young visitor ...

“To Conjugate” by Anne Lilly, MIT Museum, 2014

File under Things I Wish All Art Museums Did: the MIT Museum has a Process Gallery where you can build with the same kinds of tools the artists use. The most playful sculpture in the MIT Museum’s “5,000 Moving Parts” exhibit is Boston ...

Hidden Hollow at Heritage Museums & Gardens, Julie Moir Messervy Design Studio, Sandwich, Mass., 2010

It would be hard to pick a better setting for secret-feeling play than a glacial kettle hole. Heritage Museums & Gardens in Sandwich, Mass., took full advantage of topography when planning their natural play area, called Hidden Hollow. To ...

The Hands-on-Nature Anarchy Zone, Ithaca, NY

Everyone at the Ithaca Day of Play conference could feel it: The play revolution is underway, and it’s powered as much by the joy of seeing children follow their instincts as it is by dissatisfaction with sterile play offerings. I was invigorated ...

Play is Popping Up All Over

At Boston’s Circle the City festival this weekend, a pop-up playground delighted kids and grownups alike. Abbie Wanamaker, an artist and teacher who was partly inspired by Playscapes Blog, gathered donated cardboard boxes and tubes to create ...

Bounce, Liz Nofziger, Boston, 2014

Liz Nofziger has brought ping pong out of the basement and into a public plaza, and she’s tripled the fun. A resident artist at the Boston Center for the Arts, Nofziger connected three ping pong tables to encourage spontaneous games and interaction. ...

The Nature Nook: Managing a Playscape

What’s involved in managing a natural playscape? I’ll share some tips from the Nature Nook, which is located at Mass Audubon’s Boston Nature Center. For the design and construction story, check out my “Making of a Playscape” posts ...

Allston Parklet: The ad-bloc

I was delighted to come across this playful structure when biking in Allston last week. The sign suggests that you “sit, stand, read, eat, rest, hang out, paint, chat, laugh, gather, play music, enjoy.” They (perhaps intentionally) don’t ...

The Making of a Playscape – Construction, Part 2 (The Stream)

This is the fourth in a series of posts that tells the story of the Nature Nook, a natural playscape at an urban nature center where I was a teacher naturalist for 11 years. I hope the details about design, construction, and management will ...

The Making of a Playscape – Construction, Part 1

This is the third in a series of posts that tells the story of the Nature Nook, a natural playscape at an urban nature center where I was a teacher naturalist for 11 years. I hope the details about design, construction, and management will help ...

Playful Street Furniture

Transit stops represent one of the greatest opportunities for play in public space. You’ve got large numbers of people just sitting or standing around, in the sometimes frustrating zone between “here” and “there.” You’ve got people ...

The Making of a Playscape – Design Development, Part 2

This is the second in a series of posts that tells the story of the Nature Nook, a natural playscape at an urban nature center where I was a teacher naturalist for 11 years. I hope the details about design, construction, and management will ...

Boston Area Playscape Events: Mark Your Calendar!

Here are some upcoming playscape-related events in the Boston area. I’ve included ones that are sold out, because they’re still great ideas. Maybe you can join a mailing list and be first in line next time! THE NATURE NOOK: EXPLORING AN ...

Aldo van Eyck and New Urban Narratives

Playscapes blog celebrates Aldo van Eyck’s birthday this week, which got me thinking about the stories we tell about urban spaces and places. Postwar Amsterdam was a landscape of bombed-out buildings where bands of hungry children roamed ...

The Making of a Playscape: Design Development, Part 1

My next few posts will tell the story of the Nature Nook, a natural playscape at an urban nature center where I was a teacher naturalist for 11 years. I hope the details about design, construction, and management will help others develop their ...

Take Back the Streets

Check out this invigorating footage of Dutch children in 1972. The kids demanded one block of a street be closed to cars and made into a play street. A desire for a safe place to play grew into a community effort to make the public realm safer ...

Mitch Ryerson: Playful Art in a Garden Cemetery

Mitch Ryerson: Playful Art in a Garden Cemetery, Jamaica Plain, Mass.

Exploring Boston’s Esplanade Playspace in more detail led me to Mitch Ryerson, a Cambridge-based artist whose playful sculptures are sprinkled throughout the Boston area. I didn’t realize it until now, but he made some of my favorite sculptures ...

A Christmas Wish for Nature Play (With Apologies to Steve Martin)

If I had one wish that I could wish this holiday season, it would be for all the children of the world to enjoy the fundamental rights set out by the United Nations in the Declaration of the Rights of the Child. This wish would be directed toward ...

The Esplanade Playspace, Boston, 2011

Overheard at the Esplanade Playspace: “Stay low! Meet me at the bridge! Go! Go!” A group of eight-to-ten-year olds involved in a spy mission of their own devising is clear evidence that this location is reaching tweens, at least the younger ...

LAByrinth Climbing Structure and Idea Lab, New Children’s Museum, San Diego

(UPDATE: Wes Bruce’s installation in the photo is from the California Center for the Arts, Escondido, not from the New Children’s Museum.) If you want to learn a lot about play, talk to someone who works at a children’s museum. ...

Rainbows in the Forest Follow-up: Do It Yourself

Many have been asking how they can make their own rainbow posts like the ones at the Manning School. Here’s a list of ingredients, all of which can be found with online searches: 1. A vertical post. A good option is pressure-treated wood, ...

Twofold Bench Plays with Sitting, Boston, Mass, 2012

When is a bench also a table? And a tunnel? And a climber? When it’s part of the Street Seats design competition organized by Design Museum Boston. The Twofold bench was one of 20 selected from over 170 entries; the challenge was to design ...

Rainbows in the Forest, Manning Elementary School, Jamaica Plain, Mass.

  One of the elements installed in the Manning Elementary schoolyard in the summer of 2013 was this rainbow-making post. It’s a play space trifecta: low-cost, easy to install, and different each time you visit. Artist Ross Miller, who ...