A Langford primary school has built a natural play environment to give students the same outdoors experience their parents had.
Opened last week, the St Jude's Catholic Primary School kindergarten and pre-primary playground has a dry creek bed, rocks, shrubs, water pump, vegetable patch, logs and, the students' favourite, a hill.
There's even an unlit camp fire the children sit around.
Principal Lyn Stone, who has been working in education for 35 years, said parents' busy lifestyles and safety concerns meant children no longer played in nature at home.
"Children need stimulating outdoor play to encourage their creativity and stimulate their imaginations," she said. "There's this need for places of education, schools, to provide that sort of opportunity."
The natural environment at St Jude's joins an existing racetrack and boat, big trees and armchairs with a table set for tea in the playground.
And while the old coloured play equipment still sits in the garden, it has been abandoned by the students in favour of more imaginative play.
Kindergarten and pre-primary teacher Gaylor Murray said it was important for children to learn risk management and the playground allowed students to do that in a safe, supervised environment."Once upon a time they used to be on a bike everywhere and they don't do that any more," she said. "They've got to have those skills."
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