Minneapolis School Sensory Playground

Michael Dowling School, Urban Environmental Magnet

Magnet School Building Sensory Playground for Students

Updated: 10/29/2014 5:48 PM
Created: 10/29/2014 4:56 PM KSTP.com
By: Megan Matthews

Every child is unique and absorbs material at school in a different way. Now, recess is an important part of the learning process at one Minneapolis elementary school.

The playground at Michael Dowling Urban Environmental Magnet School is getting an upgrade. It was built in 1977, the school is now turning it into a sensory playground.

Fourteen percent of kids at the school have special needs. The new playground will be wheelchair accessible, complete with a special slide. The new sensory equipment includes a special sound chamber.

“A lot of times, when you have special needs kids and regular kids, they don’t have a chance to interact and play on the same equipment. This, I think, really levels out the playing field for that,” Principal Joe Rossow explained.

Project designer Charles Colvin even worked with students to come up with ideas.

“That whole space on the upper side will become a tree fort,” Colvin said, pointing at an area that will be renovated. “That was one of the really big things that the kids wanted.”

Colvin said it’s all about weaving learning into play. For example, under the tree house there will be panels teaching kids about birds and fish in Minnesota. Another slab wall will be transformed into a creative corner where kids can draw and write with chalk.

The project is scheduled to be finished in the spring of 2015. The upgrade costs $500,000. More than half of that money came from a donor, and the school came up with the rest.

Rossow also said they are hoping to open up the playground to the community on weekends.

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