Clayton Family Center

JEMA partnered with Kristy DeGuire of DG2 to create a “natural” playground for the Family Center in Clayton, MO. The Family Center is the early childhood education center for the School District of Clayton. The Center’s existing outdoor playground was constructed many years ago, and has become weathered and worn out.

The Center asked DG2 and JEMA to come up with a design that incorporated new ideas about outdoor childhood play, education, and development. Designing within the philosophy of the skogsmulle or “forest schools” of Scandinavia, we designed an outdoor landscape for children that promotes strong social interaction and builds self-esteem.

We created several different environments to facilitate the Family Center’s program: an outdoor amphitheater, a dynamic play area, an outdoor classroom, a race track for tricycles and bicycles, a swing and spin area, and a journey path through the woods. In this environment the learner sets the agenda. Wandering and exploring are encouraged; the design empowers the children to initiate the learning.