Thursday, 17 March 2016

This is Our Playground: McCleary Playground

Anyone who has been following this blog for a while knows that I'm pretty obsessed with exploring Toronto area playgrounds, hikes, and other activities that embrace nature.  I'm thrilled that Molly now shares this passion with me and routinely asks when we're going to visit a new park or playground. I have been excited about the prospect of Bienenstock Natural Playgrounds, a popular concept among urban dwellers who also love nature.  

Bienenstock is a leader in producing innovative, safe playgrounds that are built using natural materials taken directly from nature.  When a friend asked us to meet him in Toronto's east end neighbourhood of Leslieville on a sunny weekend afternoon, I knew we had to visit Toronto's own Bienenstock Playground, McCleary Playground.

My park review disclaimer: If you don't live in the area I hope you enjoy the pics and can use some of the ideas to inspire and explore in your own city. If you have any recommendations for great playgrounds (or new criteria I haven't thought of) please post a comment on this post or email me.

Park Name:
75 McGee Street Toronto (Just East of Queen and Broadview)

This park has local street parking and is also steps away from the Queen Street Car Stop (Boulton Avenue Stop). 

Theme of Park:
Natural Playground in an area with a lot of young families, that required green infrastructure.

Ground Coverage:
Primarily dirt, with some wood chips.

Variety of Equipment for different ages:
There are some awesome rocks and ropes for climbing, playing and imagination games. There is also a giant rope to use as a balance beam and a sizeable sandbox for kids who want to dig and build castles.
Best Parts of the Park:
This playground area has a number of picnic giant benches and armchairs made out of trees that are great for both picnics and imagination games.  It also has a wheelchair and stroller accessible track of sorts around the perimeter of the grounds, complete with wheelchair access to the two slides.

Wheelchair accessible slides at McCleary Playground 

Low risk, high reward rope climber for lil ones

This is an imagination based play area, so if your children are used to letting big and elaborate playground structures guide their play this might take some getting used to.  The playground was empty, besides us, on a sunny and warm day, fortunately our play encouraged a family I saw watching from their home across the street to come out and use what was available in their own "backyard".  A set of swings would really go a long way, but I doubt this playground/parkette had the real estate available to actually install any.
Balancing Molly

Jackie climbing through the tree arm chair

Overall Rating:
I would rate this park a 3.5 out of 5.  The kids had such a good time climbing the rocks, playing hide and go seek, tag and digging in at the sandbox.  As a kid I know I would have loved playing house among the tree arm chairs.  The concept of this playground is so neat, just come prepared to assist your children in a nature focused play, or by possibly bringing supplies to build in the sandbox if they aren't used to it.  It really bummed me out how empty this park was, but I also know that we often ignore our local parkette in favor of some weekend adventure and exploration.  To view the Bienenstock portfolio for a playground near you click here.

To read my review of a book that discusses the importance of nature play, How to Raise A Wild Child, The Art and Science of Falling in Love with Nature click here.

To read my review of Perth Square Park in Junction Triangle click here.

To read my review of Jean Sibelius Square in the Annex click here.

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