Learning and playing in nature, with Project Headway

Alex Royal took a break on the bridge while Tara Simmons raked the woodchips. — Photo by Jenny Royal

Parents, teachers, and students of the Project Headway public pre-school gathered at the West Tisbury School this past weekend to build a “natural playground.”

“We wanted a natural playground, something not all plastic,” said Project Headway teacher Jenny Royal. “A place in the shade where the kids can build things. A space that is more in the woods where they can be creative.”

Using a mini-grant from a Martha’s Vineyard Savings Bank, the organizers bought supplies from John Keene. John Keene also donated woodchips used to cover an area in the woods near the school playground that Greg Rollins and Chris Royal had brush-cut. Fencing was put up around the area.

The all-volunteer project is a work in progress that will expand in the coming months and years. Future plans for the space include a rope bridge between trees, and small rolling hills.

“The best part is the kids’ ability to get into the woods and work on their math skills, building in a natural environment,” Ms. Royal said. “We’re hoping it will turn into an outdoor appreciation classroom for the fall.”