I’ve always wanted a dry creek bed as a play space – but actually making one seemed like an impossible task! Luckily patient husband sat through my drawings and endless pictures and helped come up with a very basic creek bed design to fit our small space. It is one of the children’s favourite spaces to come and you will always find someone sorting, counting, mixing, exploring textures, chatting, balancing or even just having a quiet reflective moment.

The end product was pretty spot on to the vision and drawings I made and even though it’s a “small” creek bed it has actually made the space intimately socially interactive and led the children to be mindful and patient of each other moving around it. As it was arranged against a wall I decided on a half circle design with an “island” in the middle. The island has a little bridge with a small TP on it.

Things we used: Large rocks for creek bed border; thick plastic to line creek bed; malleable plastic mesh for inside cement; cement mix; assorted stones and pebbles to place in cement to set and to fill creek bed.

We were lucky that we had a parking space to clear and sourced a number of larger rocks that formed the basic shape of the creek. We also dug the shape on a slight incline so that if I wanted to put fresh water into the pond side of the creek to splash around in I could. Once the basic shape was dug out we could figure out where the rocks could be placed.

The next bit was a little trickier – I’d advise you get someone with a basic knowledge of cement and its processes to help you out – luckily patient husband was hands on and had a grasp of exactly what I had in mind! To start with he laid plastic in the furrowed out creek bed (best to use a thickish plastic) and then he laid a malleable plastic mesh on the plastic. He then mixed up the cement and spaded and patted it into the creek shape. Once we had the basic shape we arranged a variety of stones and pebbles (the rounded type) into the cement. Although this was time consuming it definitely gives the creek bed a more authentic feel and adds a great textural quality as opposed to plain cement.

And thats IT!! After roughly one week the cement was set and we could place the loose stones and pebbles in the creek bed. Guaranteed the pebbles end up all over the school and it is a maintenance play space, but despite this it is one of the children’s favourite play spaces and totally worth the effort. Unfortunately we don’t get any natural “creatures” inhabiting our creek bed so I will regularly hide plastic frogs, insects, fish, mice etc in the nooks and crannies around the creek. Coupled with some buckets and small fish nets they will spend ages together exploring, catching and chatting about their adventures.


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