Natural Playground Construction

Natural Playground Concept

With your help we can build a new Natural Playground for our children at GMA’s new home at Cherokee.

For the past few months we have been working on playground plans for the new school.  Jeremy Knoll, a BNIM architect/former GMA parent/Historic Green founder, very generously donated his design services to design a “Natural Playground” concept for the space. Jeremy has vast experience designing playgrounds and GMA is very fortunate to have Jeremy’s help with this exciting, cutting-edge playground design project.


Below is a photo gallery of renderings of the playground that Jeremy has designed. Jeremy is now working on scoping the project into different volunteer workdays. How much of the playground can be implemented is a calculus of the number of volunteer hours that are contributed to the project. A natural playground does not utilize large, expensive play structures that are commonly found on many playgrounds. Rather, Jeremy’s design incorporates many natural elements and other features that can be readily procured and/or built by volunteer labor.

What is a Natural Playground?  

Natural playground design is a new concept that is slowly gaining popularity. Natural playgrounds use natural landscapes as their model and incorporate as many of the following features as possible: sculptured topography such as berms and stone walls; indigenous vegetation that attracts birds and butterflies; landscaping that includes boulders, path systems, and grassy areas; structures such as pergolas, arbors, and shade tents; and learning tools such as sundials, rain gauges, and trails.

What are the advantages of a Natural Playground?

A central tenet of Montessori philosophy is connection to the natural world. While manufactured playsets help develop gross motor skills, they do very little to develop emotional, social, and cognitive creativity.  In addition to allowing for physical play, natural playgrounds help children explore the world through experimentation, observation, problem-solving, and manipulation. Additionally, a natural design gives a playground character, complexity, and architectural elegance.

Design Features for GMA’s Natural Playground

  • Stage with canvas shade structure Audio play area with drums and tubes
  • Sandbox
  • Butterfly Garden and planters
  • Natural playscape made from earthen mounds
  • Mulched pathways/trails
  • Native/adapted trees for color and bird habitat
  • Ground-cover edges to “soften” the play boundaries


GMA will create the natural playground through parent volunteer workdays. Historic Green, a local non-profit organization, will be overseeing and managing the parent workdays. Historic Green has managed the implementation of numerous playgrounds using parent volunteers. The work on GMA’s new playground will be “low skill” (meaning that anyone is qualified to help construct the playground).   Please note that ANYONE can volunteer to help build the playground! Community members are welcome!

Volunteer Expectations and Management

We have planned three parent workdays for constructing the playground:

  • Saturday, June 14, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Saturday, June 28, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Saturday, July 19, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

For a volunteer day to be successful, we need 18 to 20 volunteers to attend. You can sign up for one or more volunteer days. We ask that you commit to being at the workday for at least a 4-hour shift.

Sign up for Volunteer Workdays

We are using VolunteerSpot to manage the volunteer sign-up and communication process. Just follow these three easy steps.

1. Click the button below or the following link to go to our invitation page on VolunteerSpot.

2. Enter your email address: (You will NOT need to register an account on VolunteerSpot)

3. Sign up! Choose your spots – VolunteerSpot will send you an automated confirmation and reminders.

Note: VolunteerSpot does NOT share your email address with anyone.

If you want to sign up but prefer not to use your email address or if you have any questions, please stop by the front office or email Brian Gordon at or Erin Taylor at

GMA’s New Home

Cherokee Christian Church
7457 Cherokee Drive, Prairie Village, KS 66208