We welcome today another new contributor here at Go West! Katie lives in the far western suburbs with her husband and 15-month-old daughter. She sent in an email to tell us about this fenced-in playground — perfect for parents who have “happy wanderers” as she puts it — and then volunteered to write a review. Thanks, Katie!
Name, address/location and hours of the park:
Blackberry Creek Early Childhood Playground is located at Blackberry Creek Elementary School, 81122 South Anderson Road in Elburn. The park is located on the west side of the elementary school. The parking is in the school parking lot. Because the playground is attached to the school, is located on school property and is used by students during the day, you can only access the park after 3:30 p.m. on weekdays or when school is not in session.
Can you describe the playground? Anything special it offers?
It’s an early childhood playground, specifically for children ages 3-4. It is completely fenced in, with a gate that closes securely. The playground offers some sensory features such as wind chimes, drums, a sand table (not always filled), and a small track with texture sections for children to ride scooters or tricycles. In addition to playground equipment, it also has a bench swing, a “merri-go-round” that is adapted for smaller children and a small moon house/jungle gym.
The playground was built for the school’s Early Childhood program, which has mostly served special education students. Starting in fall 2016, the program was opened to standard education students. The playground does have some features that are special needs friendly, but the climbing structure is not wheelchair accessible.
My daughter is currently 15 months and loves this park. She is able to use many features with some assistance and play independently on some features as well. So even though it was built for preschool-age children, children ages 12 months and up would likely enjoy it.
Note that there is also another playground, used by the children in elementary grades, on the north side of the school. But a parent could not see children playing on both playgrounds at the same time.
What type of playground surface? Cushion, mulch, sand, etc?
Is there a paved trail or path good for walking or riding bikes and scooters?
Yes, there is a bike path right next to the park that also circles around the subdivision. There is also a small rubber path inside the playground with textured areas for children to ride tricycles/scooters on.
What was your child’s favorite part of the park? Least favorite?
My daughter (15 months) loves the slide and climbing structure. She also loves the merri-go-round.
What was your favorite part? Least favorite?
My favorite part is that it’s a rubber surface that’s completely fenced in. So no mud on wet or rainy days. And if you have a “happy wanderer” you can relax knowing your child can’t get out. I also like to sit on the bench swing.
My least favorite part the park can get hot during the day, specifically the afternoon due to the western exposure and full sun. I also wish the sand table was filled more consistently.
The only other thing I’m not crazy about is there is a tree with small berries on it which is right near the playground and hangs over the fence. The berries can be tempting to children who like to put things in their mouth. The tree was there before the playground was built however, so there is not much you can do about it.
Does it seem like a park that might be especially crowded at certain times of day?
Because it is attached to the school and is on school property, you can only access the park after 3:30 p.m. on weekdays or when school is not in session. Evenings and weekends it can be accessed all day. Generally the park is pretty quiet.
Are there public bathrooms?
Is there shade over the playground?
Limited shade based on the park’s position against the school building. Playground is on western side of school so in the morning there is shade due to the building blocking the eastern sun. In the afternoon, it is full sun. There are no picnic tables.
What ages to you feel this park is best for?
The playground was built for ages 3-4, but my 15-month-old daughter loves this park. I think any child from ages 1 to 4 would enjoy the park, with some assistance based on skill ability.
Can you describe your family’s experience a bit?
The playground is always very clean when we go, and often we are the only one’s present. My daughter usually runs to climb on the equipment and use the slide while I relax for a little bit on the bench swing. We usually play for at least 30-45 minutes, which for a toddler is a long time. We live in the neighborhood so we walk to and from the park on the trail that runs through the neighborhood.