Gerry is a creative, solution focused planner that has helped us increase not only the children’s enjoyment but ability to engage in sustained creative outdoor learning. Gerry also understands all the regulations that must be considered and the real bonus is that he had a deep understanding of child development and respect for the teacher and child in the design process.
Child Care and Family Resources, UW-Madison
Gerry Slater has been an inspiration in creating wonder outdoor educational environments. I have seen his creativity, design abilities, and construction knowledge combined to transformed empty lots into exciting areas for children that inspire both the child and adult. Working with Gerry for over 30 years, he has created both natural and traditional play yards, which bring the children’s outdoor spaces alive. When I need a Master site plan for a new playground natural or traditional, I seek Gerry Slater Advice, for this reason I could not recommend a better person to develop your play yard.
The Adventurous Child inc
We sincerely recommend Gerry Slater and Design4Kids for design work in children’s nature exploration areas. We approached Gerry with a very small uninspiring area and a big dream – to turn this flat outdoor area dotted with a few pieces of plastic equipment into an exciting nature exploration area. Mr. Slater led us through a very effective process. After analyzing what learning was occurring on the playground before revisioning commenced (very little), we met to brainstorm what learning we would like to see occur. This was a collaborative effort of the preschool teachers (two teachers as 1/3 of the children are diagnosed with special needs), therapists, and early childhood faculty at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. Gerry was able to create a visual representation of our dream, along with an estimated budget. This was invaluable in prioritizing and securing funding for several of the activity areas. Our nature exploration area is evolving and includes an attractive entry, a story circle a felled tree for climbing, a construction area, a sand area, the beginning of a sensory garden, and a shade tree. We have been able to extend the area up a small hill and are looking forward to climbing activities, slides, and areas for musical exploration, water play, outdoor art and a boat for imaginative play. We also hope to add to our butterfly and bird gardens to give children more flora and fauna to observe. Already, our observations and interviews (with children and teachers) reveal that learning is occurring in the cognitive, affective and physical domains for all children in both the morning 4K program and the afternoon 3 year old preschool program. Thank you, Gerry, for helping us to realize this vision for educating our young children and helping them to connect to nature.
Gay Ward, Ph.D.
Professor of Early Childhood, Literacy and Montessori Studies
University of Wisconsin-River Falls
Molly Gerrish, M.Ed.
Assistant Professor of Early Childhood Education
University of Wisconsin-River Falls
During his career Gerry Slater has done numerous jobs for Wauwatosa Day Care & Learning Centers, Inc. We have been in business 40 years and have several locations. We have worked with Gerry every time we had an inside or outside environment project. He most recently (Fall 2012) designed a beautiful playground on which we have received many compliments and the children enjoy every day. Gerry Slater is the first person we call when we need any kind of environment design.
Rosemary Krause & Janey Brandt
Wauwatosa Day Care & Learning Centers, Inc.
As the Executive Director of a multi-site not-for-profit child care agency, I have worked with Gerry over the 20+ years that I have been employed here. Gerry has done numerous playground projects for us over the years. I always enjoy working with him as I have found no one else who has the knowledge, experience, and integrity that Gerry has. We have most recently completed a three phase natural playground at our Oak Creek location which has an area for Infants/Toddlers, an area for Twos and a separate area for Preschoolers and School-agers. We also just completed a brand new natural playground at our UnitedHealth Group site which is beautiful and set amongst a Business Park, it provides a wonderful contrast! The other aspect of working with Gerry that we have so appreciated is the educational piece that he brings to a playground project. He worked with our staff to get their input and feedback and then also provided training for them on how to best utilize a natural playground and help them to understand the learning concepts that can and should take place when outside. I really would not consider working with anyone else for any playground project, he is the best!
Beverly J. Anderson
Ebenezer Child Care Centers, Inc.
I have worked with Gerry in several capacities; as an educator, contractor and mentee. First to be part of the implementation of a dynamic urban naturalized play space where I worked. Participants birth to adult were able to interact in a thoughtful and dynamic way; integrating play, exploration, composting, edible and native gardening, set up in a way where a seamless integration allowed free flow of activities while not being chaotic. This opportunity was paramount in my ability to connect these participants to nature in so many ways. As a contractor Gerry has always been mindful of a collaborative business model where we can all help provide services to a client or project while being individual businesses resulting in constant added value to clients. And always, as a mentee learning about thoughtful design within realistic parameters while being inclusive of different stake holders. Gerry has been instrumental in the success of my company.
President of The Green Team of Wisconsin, Inc.