New Kindergarten Play Space Transformation

Sep 21, 2021 | Alumni, Early Childhood

by Melanie Ingler | Communications Coordinator

When the need arose this summer to create a larger outdoor play space for our kindergarten classes, WSP Substitute Gardening Teacher, and WSP alumnus (class of 2012), Sebastian Langen rose to the occasion. He designed and created the wonderful new space where our kindergarten children start their days.

The vision was to create a new larger outdoor play space that would afford the children the opportunity for big play and climbing, underneath our beautiful oak tree on the upper field of the Los Altos campus, which is often a little wet and soggy in the winter months. After carefully clearing and leveling the area, and some help from others this summer, Sebastian created a large space covered with wood chips as a base, and then singlehandedly designed and executed the rest of the transformation this summer.

One of the key elements of the new play space are several large redwood logs that were salvaged from trees that had fallen in the CZU Lightning Complex fire on his family’s property. Cutting them just to the length of his truck bed, he hauled them down from the mountain and removed the ashy outer layers revealing the healthy wood within. Each of them is buried deep within the ground with gravel and shale to provide sturdy perches for play.

The shorter stumps were donated by the alumni family of Liam Hanlon who salvaged them from a neighborhood tree-cutting in the certainty that a school would benefit and he was right! One of the climbing triangles created by the students in the third grade of 2014 was relocated here. There are a variety of logs and planks the children enjoy moving around to create new play opportunities. The space is still under transformation with more elements to come. Later this year, there will be notches for climbing, balance beams, and a few more surprises. 

Sebastian joined Waldorf School of the Peninsula way back in fourth grade when his family moved here because his father had accepted the position of Practical Arts teacher. Having been absent for part of middle and high school, Sebastian returned in the eleventh grade and graduated with our second high school class. After high school, he took on a Biodynamic Gardening apprenticeship at Rudolf Steiner College. Sebastian was excited to learn of the opportunity to return to WSP. “Teacher Sebastian,” as he is known by the students, joined us last year as a long-term substitute while our Los Altos campus Gardening teacher Ms. Roberts was away on maternity leave. As luck would have it, soon after she returned, our Mountain View campus Gardening teacher Ms. Uludag also left on maternity leave so Teacher Sebastian is now often found with middle school students on that campus. 

We are fortunate that Sebastian returned to bring his gifts back to WSP, and create our beautiful new kindergarten play space.