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At Once Upon A Time, we're proud of our center and playgrounds. Our school has two distinct playgrounds:   

one for students birth-three, and another for students 3 and older.

Our students go outside each day, weather permitting, and enjoy spacious play yards with modern equipment. 

We believe in natural playgrounds. 

If you've ever made mud pies, played with water, felt the grass, built with snow, dug in the dirt, planted seeds, jumped in leaves,  or had fun outside in other, similar ways, you know what we are talking about.

We have a variety of landscape elements, including but not limited to dirt, pavers, and stones. We have garden plots, shaded areas, and trees. Our playgrounds promote age-appropriate play, social, and learning opportunities.

We get messy.


"Red paint in the hair? Blue paint on the jeans?
Sand in the shoes? Peanut butter on a favorite shirt?

White socks that look brown? Sleeves a bit damp?



  • worked with a friend

  • solved a problem

  • created a masterpiece

  • negotiated a difference

  • learned a new skill

  • had a great time

  • developed new language skills



  • feel lonely

  • become bored

  • do a repetitive task 

  • do worksheets that are too easy

  • do sit down work that is discouraging



  • paid good money for those clothes

  • will have trouble getting the red paint out

  • are concerned that your child's teacher isn't paying enough attention to your child



  • was aware of your child's special needs and interest

  • spent time planning a challenging activity for the children

  • encouraged the children to try new things

  • was worried you might be concerned


Young children really learn when they are actively involved in play. There is a difference between "messy" and "lack of care."  Your child was offered new skills and participated in messy fun things to do because that's how children learn!

So send your child in clothes that can get dirty! Keep extra clothes at school for the times when your child gets really messy." ~adapted from OPTIONS Summer 1995 Newsletter 

Our Outdoor Play Policy:


Our curriculum and state-mandated regulations stipulate that we must take children outside every day, weather permitting. 


Weather permitting, as defined by the commonwealth of Pennsylvania, means the following:


When it’s cold outside: above 25 degrees Fahrenheit (including wind chill), without precipitation as reported by the National Weather Service.  This means that we will go outside in cold weather; so, please send gloves/mittens, hats, scarves, and boots in the winter.  Even our infants will take brief outings out of doors.  Weather permitting also means that if it rains in the morning, but stops, we will go outside in the afternoon.  When it’s wet outside: weather permitting is defined as it is not raining/snowing/sleeting /hailing right now.


When it’s hot outside: weather permitting is defined as a temperature at or below 90 degrees (including heat index) as reported by the National Weather Service with no precipitation. If you wish your child to have sunscreen applied before going outdoors, please apply it at home daily, and bring it in clearly labeled with your child’s name. We update sunscreen consent forms annually in the spring.


In the summer, our students may play in our built-in sprinkler systems.  In order for a child to participate, families should provide:

  • a swimsuit,

  • a towel, and

  • splash shoes. 

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