Most designers are well-versed in the interactive, brainstorming design process. Usually, it involves rolling out trace paper on top of the base plan so they can begin thinking with their pencil by drawing and sketching ideas. However, this system can be intimidating to other participants who do not have drawing skills, feel uncomfortable trying to sketch, or reluctant to suggest alternatives once ideas are on paper. The OLE! Texas process, as developed by the Natural Learning Initiative or NLI, uses a much simpler system that allows for and encourages greater interaction by utilizing colored construction paper cut into different shapes to represent trees, pathways, playhouses, teepees, sand boxes, raised planters, and other play settings.
The construction paper cutouts are placed on the base plan by all participants of the workshop. The administrators, educators, designers, parents, maintenance staff and any other stakeholders are all responsible for not only contributing to the design process, but also reaching a consensus that promotes ownership of the outdoor learning environment. The schematic plan with the construction paper cutouts is taken by the designer and utilized to create the illustrative master plan that is provided to the center. To see examples of the illustrative master plans of past projects, visit our Projects page.