The small, rural town of Latta, South Carolina, is proud of its farming roots and community. They’re also proud of their brand new elementary school—a sign of burgeoning hope for the community, made possible through federal Recovery Act funds. In planning their new playground, the team at Latta Elementary School wanted to create a safe, modern space where kids could gather and play, both during and after school hours—a place to connect with community and with nature.
Like many educational communities, the people of Dillon School District 3 understood the importance of play on many levels: as a support to better academic performance and early childhood development; as a fertile field for seeding and growing confidence, physical and intellectual skills; and as an avenue to engage with nature and the outdoors.
That connection to the outdoors shaped Latta Elementary's approach to incorporate nature themes into their new playground. Developed with the help of a landscape architect and local Playworld rep, the resulting design beautifully complements its surroundings with nature-inspired features including the garden gate entrance (with custom-lettered sign) and kid-safe synthetic turf to mimic real grass.
The nature story continues with the massive T-Rex bones, which emerge from the ground to spark imagination, exploration and climbing activity. The Log Hops allow kids to test their balance, while the RockBlocks Climbing Tunnel inspires climbing and imaginary play. The Hill Slide—a modular Slither Slide built right into the natural slope of the play area—further integrates play into the landscape while offering irresistible sliding excitement (rumor has it that even some grown-ups take an occasional turn). Thoughtful planning has also left room to grow, with future plans that include the addition of fitness stations, an amphitheater and other components.
To optimize play value and flow, the playground is organized into two distinct areas, providing engaging, age-appropriate play for the 2- to 5-year-old group and also 5-12 year olds. And people of all ages, from the superintendent and principal to the youngest guests, are delighted with the results. Naturally.