Natural Play Space Becoming a Reality at O.H. Anderson

Mahtomedi High School students spent a couple of hours on Saturday, April 14, establishing a new natural play space at O.H. Anderson Elementary with guidance from Jeff Ledermann, MAGI member and environmental and outdoor education coordinator for the Minnesota Department of Education. Davis Grilley, Cole Harmon, Brennan Johnson, Heidi Ledermann, Katie Ledermann and Andrew McIntyre all volunteered their time to remove buckthorn and barbed wire from a wooded space just off the ballfields behind the school. They used the buckthorn and fallen logs to establish a perimeter to help define the space so students can be easily supervised. The area includes some really nice oak trees of various sizes to climb on, lots of downed logs and deadfalls for fort building, leaves to pile up and even a few inhabitants waiting to be discovered. Heidi was excited to find a couple of resident wood frogs and Andrew uncovered a couple of other lost treasures. The MHS students were excited to develop the new space for current and future OHA students, but Davis lamented how he wished it would’ve been available when he was an OHA student.

Since it is located directly off the existing turf playgrounds and now with an established perimeter, the hope is OHA students will be able to easily access and use this new play

Heidi Ledermann and friend at the new OHA natural play space

area during school and at other times. Students in OHA’s before and after school care program are already looking forward to the new play space and will help bring additional “play material”- small logs and branches from OHA’s recent visit from a horse logger – into the area and fortify the perimeter. At OHA’s Nature Trail Day on May 11, a day dedicated to getting OHA students outside to learn about the 11-acre school forest and prairie surrounding the school, some lucky fourth graders will be able to work with Tamarack Nature Center Naturalist Pat Black to further design and create the space for their future use and play.