The Children’s Museum of Tacoma features a number of playscapes designed to encourage nonprescriptive play, each with small gems that some may not notice on their first visit. The first playscape that visitors see when they enter the galleries at the Children’s Museum is Woods.

Let’s Take a Look Around!

Visitors will likely notice the log tunnel, which allows children to explore. Behind the tunnel is a cozy nook with a space perfect for some of our youngest friends. With lots of stuffed animals and interesting textures to touch, this area also has a section of warped flooring for little ones to explore by crawling. This space also features a reading nook with a bench overlooking the outdoor Playground Ish, the former home of Greentrike Camps. If visitors look up from this area, they may notice the large dolphin sculpture swimming through the air.

The main structure of Woods features two levels for children and their caregivers to explore. Each playscape in the Museum are built with everyone in mind, including caregivers, so adults are welcome and encouraged to join their children in and on the playscapes.

The lower level features a play kitchen stocked with toy food, dishes, a sink, and more. Each day, Playguides have fun setting up the Museum’s extensive plushie collection to leave a surprise for the morning’s visitors. You may find a pack of omnivores sharing a healthy meal in the kitchen, forest animals huddled around a campfire, and more. You never know what you’ll find when you walk through the doors! Visitors can also find a cave filled with mirrors and a wall for drawing with light pens in the darkness.

The upper level is accessible by stairway or climbing ramp, and features windows for children to see a whole new perspective of the Museum from above. Consider asking children what new things they’re seeing from this angle. This floor also has shelves at various heights and talking tubes for visitors to speak through to communicate with friends that are below. They may also notice a small container on a pulley, which allows children to experiment with physics by ferrying toys up and down to the kitchen below. Finally, they’ll reach a bridge suspended in the air connecting two sections of the playscape.

At the Children’s Museum of Tacoma, the playscapes are designed to allow children to take the lead in how they engage and play. They, like Greentrike’s mission and programming, are inspired by the Reggio Emilia approach to early childhood learning, which asks, “What is the image of children we carry with us, and how does that image inform the environment, the interactions, and the decisions we make with children?”