New Early Years Natural Playground at Heschel!

Yesterday marked the grand opening of Heschel’s Early Years Natural Playground! This all-season space was thoughtfully designed to help our students develop socially, emotionally and physically, to build ecological awareness, to enhance problem solving skills, and to inspire joy, creativity, and wonder.

Did you know that:

  • “Time in Nature” is now a key health indicator on the Active Healthy Kids Canada report card [i]
  • Math and language scores increase directly in proportion to contact with nature [ii]
  • Exposure to dirt has been proven to increase healthy immune response, improve gut health, reduce stress and increase focus and attention spans [iii]
  • Natural Playgrounds provide engagement for all 5 senses, as well as kinesthetic sense, sense of place, and sense of wonder and include outdoor classrooms, spaces for quiet contemplation, creative and dramatic play, fine motor engagement, balance, agility, gross motor, and cognitive engagement [iv]
  • Natural Playgrounds provide a place of mastery for every child of every ability [v]

The name we have given to our playground is Gan Tzimchah גן צמיחה. Tzimchah צמיחה means growing – it is our hope that children at The Toronto Heschel School will grow and blossom in this beautiful space. We want to thank a Heschel family for their incredible generosity in making this playground possible. Thank you also to Bienenstock Natural Playgrounds for bringing our vision to life.

As cited in

[i] Nancy Wells:

[ii] Active Healthy Kids Canada:

[iii] Mary Ruebusch, Dirt is Good:

[iv] Adam Bienenstock, Rusty Keeler, Author – Natural Playscapes, Robin Christie Childspace Inc. NZ.

[v] R. King. Read more: