Have you ever wondered what happens to the playhouses from each summer’s Dallas CASA Parade of Playhouses? You know they’re won by raffle, but where do they end up? Who is loving them? Are children playing in them? Are the houses as full of joy and laughter as you imagined?
Dallas CASA wonders too.
We just got a wonderful report from Saint James Episcopal School in Lake Highlands, where the Grasshopper House is now residing. Dallas CASA supporter Julie Noble won the house and donated it to the school, which serves children 18 months to six years old.
The house was placed next to the Montessori school’s garden, packed with climbing vines, overflowing flowers and tiny chairs. A winding path leads to the house, which students may choose to explore as one of their independent choices. Nature is an integral part of the classroom education at Saint James and children are encouraged to collect natural things from the garden and playground.
Classroom lessons can be taught in the playhouse, which is now stocked with tools for catching, examining and identifying insects and plants of every variety. School head Loree Birkenback says the house is the perfect place to inspire young minds.
“We want to provide as many ways for children to connect with nature as possible,” she said. “The house fit right into our curriculum.”
The playhouse was designed by longtime Dallas CASA supporter Bob Borson, whose design was influenced by the cricket houses that some people in China use to store pet crickets. Borson chose a grasshopper theme to be more appealing to children. The open slats allow air flow on hot days, but they also allow children to feel both ownership over the space and part of the larger world.
For Julie Noble the donation was an easy decision. She helped Saint James’ school achieve accreditation through the Southwestern Association of Episcopal Schools, an arduous and time-consuming process. She’s had a deep love for the school ever since and attends church there every Sunday.
“I knew the school and knew the Montessori aspect,” she said. “When I saw the house, I just knew it was a perfect fit.”