The best play-based & nature-based early years’ centres and schools in WA

As referred by followers on Maggie Dent’s Facebook page September 2017
A summary of people’s comments are listed in bullet points under school names.

Disclaimer: Please note that this list is compiled from comments made by Facebook followers. It is not the opinion of Maggie Dent or her employees, nor are these recommendations to be considered formal endorsements by Maggie Dent. When deciding which school is best for your child, it is important to make your decision based on your individual child – there is no one-size fits all.

However we asked our 100,000+ Facebook followers “Which schools in WA have you observed have a focus on:
* play-based learning in the early years, and / or
* strong nature-based focus in their teaching and learning…”


Here’s what they said:

Alkimos Primary School – Alkimos

  • Son has flourished. Therapy team, gardening club. Fits all learning

Amare Child Care Centre– Bassendean

  • New nature playground. Stones, dry creek bed, natural materials and lots of interesting areas. Hens and baby chickens

Annie’s Playschool – Mount Claremont

  • We love it. Learning through play

Armadale Primary School – Armadale

  • Little school nestled into nature.

Bannister Creek Primary School – Lynwood

  • The students make cubbies in the bush. Nature play in the Early Childhood area and an Aboriginal garden.

Banksia Montessori School – Dianella

  • Kids never idle and bored. Wonderful little preschool

Beaumaris Primary School – Ocean Reed

  • Especially Mrs G in kindergarten
  • Incredible when we went there
  • Great school
  • Amazing play-based learning
  • Teachers are amazing and have fabulous ideas and spend a lot of time getting to know the children
  • Fantastic example of a school where the entire community works together. Fantastic play area based on nature play concept. Strong leadership

Beldon Primary School – Beldon

  • Big nature play and awesome veggie patch

Bold Park Community School – Wembley

  • Love Bold Park
  • Their direction is wonderful
  • Truly inspiring place

Booragoon Occasional Child Care Centre – Booragoon

  • Outdoor area is absolutely beautiful and the educators very caring

Byford Community Kindergarten – Byford

  • The best

Canning Vale Pre-Kindy – Canning Vale

  • Community base service that is all about play. Flow between indoor and beautiful natural outdoor

Careforkids Day-care – Mosman Park

  • Awesome day-care which has a beautiful nature based playground. My little absolutely loves it there and her teachers

Carmel School – Dianella

  • Walker Learning approach in Kindy, PP and year 1. Play based learning and fantastic outdoor areas – elaborate mud kitchen, nature playground and ever changing loose parts. Worm farm, nature walks and tree climbing

Carmel Adventist College – Bickley

  • Lots of play based and nature based learning. Beautiful hills environment.

Casa Mia Montessori Community School – Bassendean

  • Best climbing tree. Dedicated staff, nature and loose play, Montessori materials the support development of whole child

Chapman Valley Primary School – Chapman Valley

  • Amazing ethos, awesome approach to nature based play. Fantastic staff. Brilliant tiny school

Child Side School – Boyanup

  • Play based. Love it
  • Child Side is amazing

Chrysalis Montessori – Glendalough

  • Great school

Como Children Day Care

  • Best day care ever
  • Amazing
  • Couldn’t be happier. Beautiful garden, veggie patch, trees, art studio, music studio and home cooked meals
  • Reggio Emilia and Howard Gardner’s multiple intelligences

Compass Early Learning Centre – Merriwa

  • Beautiful nurturing philosophy

College Community Childcare – Bunbury

  • Strong focus on nature based learning. Playground has wooden features, fish, fruit tree, water play and edible garden

Connolly Primary School – Connolly

  • Nature play space. Outdoor play investigations. Play based approach
  • Amazing

Cottesloe Primary School

  • So much to celebrate at this independent school – Maggie Dent

Craigie Childcare Centre – Craigie

  • Small centre. Always visiting local parks and community spaces.
  • Staff are amazing

Curtin Primary School – Manning

  • Fantastic play based program for early years. Gorgeous, friendly, small school with nature playground on the way

Curtin University Childcare

  • Amazing sensory garden and the kids do loads of art.

Darlington Primary School – Darlington

  • Play based learning. Nature based, risk taking play. Literacy and numeracy programs far and beyond others

Dardanup Primary School – blog post image is taken from Dardanup

  • Beautiful nature playground.

Dardanup Primary School

  • Fabulous nature play spaces for ECEC – so much to love with children playing freely surrounded by amazing dedicated staff … our kids love this place and can’t wait to get there every day!

Dianella Primary College – Dianella

  • Very big on play based learning and have amazing outdoor spaces

Dunsborough Cornerstone – 3 hours south of Perth

  • Beautiful bush setting

East Victoria Park Primary School – East Victoria Park

  • Wonderful new nature play area. So, impressed with the ECE staff

Edgewater Primary School – Perth

  • Awesome nature playground

Edney Primary School – High Wycombe

  • Best move we could have made

Frederick Irwin Anglican School – Mandurah

  • Walker learning program
  • Play based learning and its changed my little man’s whole attitude to school and learning. Great environment for active boy

Fremantle Early Learning Centre – Fremantle

  • High quality play based learning. Truly inspiring. Beautiful and natural outdoor areas. I love this place
  • Ethos – Nature, Nurture, Belong

Geographe Primary School – Busselton

  • Walker Learning program. Nature playground
  • Helped our very active child who generally struggles with learning and sitting still

Geraldton Grammar School – Geraldton

  • Bush kindy. Walker approach

Golden Hill Steiner School – Denmark

  • Play based learning. Great school as an alternative to main stream
  • Great example

Good Shepard Catholic Primary – Kelmscott

  • Walker Learning approach. Brilliant nature based playground. Big bush block

Goollelal Primary School – Kingsley

  • Recommended

Gooseberry Primary School – Perth hills

  • Backs up onto thousands of hectares of nature reserve. Huge nature play or bush play.
  • This school rocks outdoors and indoors

Hammond Park Catholic School – Hammond Park

  • Two outdoor classrooms. Bush play
  • Play based learning. Bush Ply program. Imaginative and messy play in wellie boots and raincoats. Kids love it and learn how to respect and care for their environment

Hawker Park Primary School – Warwick

  • Amazing with a nature focus and play based

Hazel Orme Community kindergarten – White Gum Valley

  • Wonderful beginning to schooling. Old fashioned, cosy dress up corner, big old wooden doll house, lots of outside play, daily fruit, singing and colouring in. Just magic.

Helena College – Glen Forrest

  • Recommended

Helena River Steiner School – Midland

  • I can absolutely recommend Helena River Steiner School. Beautiful teachers, volunteers, friends, family and students who all work together in such a kind and inclusive.

Hensman Street Kindergarten – South Perth

  • amazing

Heritage College – Perth

  • Wonderful play based and nature focused learning environments

Hillarys Community Kindergarten – Hillarys

  • My son had the best start to his education. Learning through play everyday
  • Love this kindy and the teachers
  • Amazing team. Highly recommend
  • Wonderful kindy

Hillside Christian College – Forrestfield

  • Nature playground and outdoor physical structures in high school

Hocking Primary School – Perth

  • Brand new nature playground for the early childhood students.

Holy Spirit Primary School – City Beach

  • Two nature playgrounds, veggie patches, outdoor bean bags, large size games. A commitment to play base learning in all years and a creativity centre to encourage STEAM education subjects before and after school. School holiday programs.

Holy Cross College – Ellenbrook

  • Brilliant with both the nature playground and open plan classrooms. Play based learning
  • Wonderful school for play based learning. Highly recommend

Huntingdale Primary School – Huntingdale

  • Fantastic for play based learning. $40k grant to build nature playground

International School of Western Australia – City Beach

  • Nature playground is stunning. For local students as well as international

Jack and Jill Child Care Centre – Mandurah

  • Wonderful free flow. Multi age group education. Huge outdoor area, real grass, sand and dirt, veggie garden and play based

John Wollaston Anglican Community School – Camillo

  • Highly skilled educators who run an amazing play based program. Wonderful nature play spaces

Jolimont Primary School – Jolimont

  • Awesome supportive team
  • Fantastic, amazing

Joondalup Early Learning Centre – Joondalup

  • Natural bush environment and outdoor base philosophy second to none. Award winning centre
  • Brilliant

Joondalup Early Learning Centre

  • This centre is fantastic with nature play spaces and incredible staff committed to building emotional and social wellbeing
  • We love the calmness focus that happens here – such caring staff!

Joondalup Education Support Centre – Joondalup

  • For children with additional needs. Play based is the way to go

Kensington Primary School – Kensington

  • Extensive nature base playground built by the fantastic parents and local community

Kerrie’s Place Family Day Care – Butler

  • bush to beach pre-kindy program and nature play

Kerry Street Community School – Hamilton Hill

  • Incredible energy put in by staff. Play based and so much learning
  • Lovely play based school

Kidz Biz Early Learning Centre – Nedlands

  • Fantastic play based. Incorporate natural materials and exploration.
  • Child led nature play based. Chooks and guinea pigs. Love it

Lance Holt School – Freemantle

  • Truly amazing. Children thrived there. Academically couldn’t be happier. Intrinsic learning
  • Urban setting but strong nature based learning program – nature walks, beach school, river school, bush school (kids in year 2 and 3 spend one day a week in the bush). So much joy and learning.
  • My son with ASD absolutely thrived there and loved every second of bush school

Leschenault Catholic Primary School – Australind

  • Teaches with walker approach. Great nature based playground

Leaning Tree Community School – Geraldton

  • My kids have thrived there

Leederville Early Learning Centre – Leederville

  • Even the baby room had a tank of tadpoles to watch transforming, The babies/toddlers sleep in tents outside. Outdoor garden, and cubby house, waterplay, jelly play, excursions. Visitors such as snake handler.

Liwara Catholic Primary – Greenwood

  • Great nature play areas for each age group and more planned.

Little Learners Childcare – White Gum Valley

  • My son loves it. Lovely outdoor area. Explore and try things out
  • Excellent out door area. Weather permitting, they sleep outside

Lockridge Primary School – Lockridge

  • Play based learning

Maida Vale Primary School – Maida Vale

  • Awesome principal and great teachers.
  • -Natural bush playground

Marangaroo Family Centre – Perth

  • Lovely and caring staff and great inclusive atmosphere

Margret River Independent School – Forest Grove

  • Play based learning approach, lots of bush learning in our frog bog and Nyindamurra Nature Trail. 3-year-old Little Indies program – bush playgroup. Learning about nature and indigenous culture

Marjorie Mann Day Care – Lawley

  • Care, love and inspired education
  • Amazing centre
  • Great reputation in the community.   Inspired by Reggio Emilia

Marmion Avenue Community Care – Carine

  • Brilliant

McDougall Park Community Kindergarten – Como

  • Gorgeous place
  • Play based with amazing teachers.
  • Beautiful, natural environment and amazing teachers who love and value play.
  • Educators are amazing. Children excelling both intellectually and socially.
  • Fabulous environment for little ones.
  • Best play based education centre around
  • My child loved his year at McDougall
  • The best kindy
  • Outstanding
  • Outdoor time, fun science, mystery room. My son thrived

Millen Primary School – East Victoria Park

  • Grow the garden, build cubbies, go on nature walks, dig for worms, and paint pictures of what they have seen. Brilliant

Mindarie Primary School

  • Fabulous school with amazing teachers and support staff
  • Huge play area with chooks, sandpit, boat and wooden stage

Moerlina School – Mt Claremont

  • Wonderful school. Strong academic results while allowing kids to be kids. Play and nature are central. Art, science, social and emotional wellbeing. Kids thriving.
  • Gorgeous nurturing environment. Indoor and outdoor play. Bush and beach school
  • Teachers pretty amazing
  • Jerdacuttup Primary School
  • Up to date as any city school. iPad for every child.

Montessori School – Kinsley

  • Focus on playing and developing in nature. Bushland. Kids collect seeds, build nesting boxes for micro bats.
  • Children free to go outdoors if they wish.
  • Love being at this school

Montessori Early Childhood Centre – Merriwa

  • 6 weeks to 5 years. My kids love it.

Morwell Street Learning Centre – Yanchep

  • Play based learning throughout all the age groups. Natural items and connections to nature. Outdoor play areas are amazing natural spaces.

Mosman Park Kindy/Primary School – Mosman Park

  • Put great nature playground in not long ago

Mother Teresa Catholic College – Baldivis

  • Walker Learning, nature playground, chooks. Veggie patch, worm farms and beautiful natural surrounding and buildings

Mullaloo Community Kindergarten – Mullaloo

  • Fantastic start to school. Amazing teachers
  • Beautiful caring teachers who put their heart and soul into wonderful play based curriculum
  • Beautiful paly area. Well-resourced and established
  • Couldn’t speak more highly
  • Allows them to investigate their environment

Mundarda Community Day-care – Armadale

  • Reggio, non-punitive, play based, nature loving. Loved by all
  • Beautiful place. I felt calm and peaceful there

Nollamara Primary School – Nollamara

  • Cannot recommend highly enough

Noranda Primary School – Noranda

  • Lots of nature play they also have bush wardens club.

North Cottesloe Primary School – Cottesloe

  • Commitment to maintaining play base and age appropriate pedagogy. Long periods of indoor and outdoor play. Time to learn and make decisions
  • Brilliant program and teachers.

Northshore Christian Grammar School – Alkimos

  • New school. All play based. Great new outdoor nature play and mud kitchen. Fantastic new science inquiry playground with pulleys, levers, balances. Amazing school

O’Connor Play and Learn Childcare – O’Connor

  • Awesome huge outdoors area, veggie patch and mud kitchen.

Olive Grove Centre of Early Learning – Gosnells

  • Unique setting. All play based with natural materials

Padbury Community Kindergarten – Padbury

  • Wonderful play based learning. Holds a special place in our hearts
  • Play based and brilliant staff

Perth Waldorf School – Bibra Lake

  • Beautiful for kids
  • The most gorgeous bush environment for children. Magical gardens. Adventure playground. Play is valued for all ages.
  • We are so happy
  • Sticks, rocks and lots of dirt. Climbing of trees, building of structures, using your imagination, being outside, excursions to the local lakes.

Peter Carnley Anglican Community School – Kwinana

  • Recommended

Peter Moyes Anglican Community School – Mindarie

  • Absolutely amazing. Mud kitchen, outstanding play areas, inspiring and wonderful teachers. Could not be happier
  • Warm, comfortable, natural, non-fussy and loved classrooms. Dedicated to its children’s comfort and interests, likes and dislikes, abilities and needs
  • Teachers go that extra mile. Dress ups, play, laugh and love

Pioneer Village Primary School – Armadale

  • Early years teachers are great advocates of play based learning. Wonderful classrooms and play space. Nestled in a beautiful little village in the hills

Poseidon Primary School – Heathridge

  • Kindy program amazing. Awesome nature playground

Riverblossoms Steiner School – Midvale

  • amazing

Riverland’s Montessori School – Swan Valley

  • Lots of nature based playground and outdoor classes.

Riverton-Willetton Kindergarten

  • Fabulous caring centre – exceptional educators
  • Outside area is fabulous and includes gardens and nature play spaces where kids can get messy

Quinn’s Baptist College – Mindarie

  • Amazing nature play areas. The kids grow their own vegie/flower gardens. 2 mud kitchens. Big climbing trees, tires, big boulders/rocks to climb on. Mud pay days in Winter. Play focused

Quinns Rock Primary School – Quinns Rock

  • Chickens, veggies, mud kitchen, pond.

Quintilian School – Mount Claremont

  • Play based learning geared to the individual child. Super amazing teachers, huge adventure playground, chicken run and veggie patch. Cannot say enough good things about this school.
  • Kids get excursions to learn all about environment, community and care for each other. Terrific school

Sawyers Valley Primary School – Sawyers Valley

  • Strong focus on sustainability with a nature play space in historic pines area. Own wetland and creek. Chooks, worm farm, vegie garden, bandicoots. Great community feel
  • A great way to get to know nature and learn about wildlife

Seaview Community Kindergarten – Cottesloe

  • Fabulous teachers. My daughter absolutely loves it. Highly recommend

Serpentine Jarrahdale Grammar School – Mundijong

  • Play based learning
  • Play based learning. Lots of equipment made with wood, stepping stones, water paly, vege garden, chickens, bush to walk around in, tree climbing, cubbies, fire pit.

Silver Tree Steiner School – Parkerville

  • Beautiful for kids
  • Beautiful school with an emphasis on holistic education, mind, body and spirit. Natural bush setting with endless nature experiences
  • Bush block on 25 acres. Kids play all year round inside and out

South Baptist College

  • Big area. Kids love it

Spearwood Alternative School – Spearwood

  • Awesome grounds, community, programs and teachers
  • Connection to environment, positive growth of self and engagement in learning. Dynamic, caring and rich community

Spirit of Play Community School – Denmark

  • Great example

Spring Hill Primary School – Tapping

  • Mud Kitchens and nature themed play area. Recently had an outdoor learning day and Australian wildlife came to the school. Very happy with the school

St Columba’s Primary School – Bayswater

  • Amazing team. Extremely fortunate with this school
  • Play based learning and nature play. Foster independence and resilience through play. Lots of messy play and fun. Flexible learning environment. Fabulous school

St Damien’s Catholic Primary – Dawesville

  • What’s not to love about our school. Play based learning, nature play, healthy eating policy, veggie gardens, chooks, fabulous teachers and great school

St Denis Primary School – Joondanna

  • Gorgeous little school with chooks, veggie gardens and an amazing new nature playground complete with old 4WD for those exploring adventures. Great teachers and a great community

St Dominic’s School – Innaloo

  • Play based learning. Veggie patch. Great teachers

St Emilie’s Catholic Primary School – Canning Vale

  • Amazingly talented and dedicated staff in their kindy.

St Elizabeth Catholic Primary School – Hocking

  • Amazing play base environment. Recommend
  • Nature play based environment is wonderful. My son is learning so much

St Jerome’s Primary School – Munster

  • Amazing play based kindergarten. Nature playground, water pump.

St John Bosco College – Harrisdale

  • Best thing we have ever done

St Johns Primary School – Scarborough

  • Wonderful, close community with play based learning. Fabulous nature playground

St Luke’s Catholic Primary – Woodvale

  • Play based learning. Nature based areas. Flexible classroom environment
  • Amazing arts area and meditation room
  • Blown away on school tour
  • Fantastic school. Absolutely love it
  • Highly recommend

St Marks Anglican Community School – Hillarys

  • Solid nature and play based grounding
  • Play based learning, beautiful learning spaces. Inspiration from the Walker Approach and Riggio Approach
  • Wonderful play based learning program. Reggio Emilia and Kathy Walker approach. Create, investigate and explore

St Marys School – Merredin

  • So lucky for a small country town
  • Love St Marys

St Stephen’s School – Duncraig

  • Purpose built early leaning campus which promotes learning through play across curriculum. My boys love it

St Stephen’s Secondary School – Carramar

  • Play based for a number of years. Great playground in the kindy area

Swan Christian College Early Learning Centre – Perth

  • Passionate about play base learning. Children making choices, engaging with nature, being creative with loose parts.

Tapping Primary School – Tapping

  • Legend principle and awesome P&C. Learning initiatives around play

Telethon Speech and Language School – Wembley

  • Highly recommend. Play/sensory base and similar to Walker Learning model
  • Amazing staff. Twins have come so far

Thornlie Christian College – Southern River

  • Play based learning, walker approach allowing students to play create explore and investigate. Incredible teachers

Tiddlywinks Pre-Kindy – Wembley

  • Beautiful play based program. Teachers wonderful. Nurturing, educational and beautiful environment

Tiny Beez Education and Care Centre – Claremont

  • My son had two wonderful years there

Treasured Tots Early Education – Fremantle and Bibra Lake

  • Play based programs and nature playgrounds. Nature brought indoors to build sustainable resources

Treetops Montessori School – Darlington

  • Wonderful bush play environment. Whole school nurturing environment where the individual child is central. Happy teenagers.
  • Vote for Treetops
  • Beautiful bush setting with soon to be finished additional outdoor/nature play initiative
  • Parent built nature playground, trees galore, real rocks and lots of bush. Children don’t want to leave. Truly beautiful
  • Tree climbing, construction of dams and walls in sand. Excellent school

Tuart Hill Community Kindergarten – Tuart Hill

  • Great play based curriculum. Lots of outdoor time

Unicare Early Childhood Education – Nedlands

  • Beautiful nurturing philosophy
  • ‘Encourage the wonder’ Meet macca the pig, Yazzo the rabbit, chickens, birds and ducks.

Vasse Public School – Busselton

  • Implementing the Walker Learning approach. Wonderful school.
  • Amazing playground
  • Flexible seating in the classroom

Victoria Park Christian School – Victoria

  • play/nature

Wallistion Primary School – near Kalamunda

  • Proudly play based learning. Walker Learning. Strong focus on outdoor pedagogy and play in bush surrounds

Wanneroo Primary School – Wanneroo

  • Nature play, running creek, chickens

West Balcatta Primary School – Balcatta

  • Amazing space
  • Amazing community project nature space

West Coast Steiner School – Nollamara

  • Beautiful for kids

Whitford Family Centre – Hillarys

  • Wonderful play based socialisation programme

Woodbury Boston Primary School – Halfway between Albany and Denmark

  • Play based, hands on, child led education. Best natural nature playground. Truly fabulous school

Woodland Grove Primary School – Byford

  • Huge nature outdoor playground for climbing and running. Outdoor music. Kids play freely through whole school. Bigger kids mix with younger. Brilliant

Yallingup Steiner School – Wildwood Valley

Yanchep Beach Primary School – Yanchep Beach

  • Daily bush walks through national park
  • Magnificent nature play areas
  • Positive steps forward.   Lots of nature based paly spaces and flexible learning spaces
  • Beautiful nature play areas and flexible learning spaces. Don’t do daily bush walks

Also to all who share the concern of the disappearance of play based learning – please take two minutes to endorse the WA Play Strategy. We need this to have lots of endorsements so the powers that may be listen!