There are so many reasons as to why I’m a huge advocate for getting the whole family outside and playing in Nature. Its so good for your child’s sensory system but its also so good for mothers mental health. I’m so glad to welcome Erin from celebrateplay to present us all with 12 ways to play in Nature.
Erin is a Mum, wife, Early Childhood and Primary School teacher and the Founder of celebrateplay – a digital learning space supporting and empowering Mums of early learners in play and organisation.
12 ways to celebrate play in NATURE
…so it is no secret, that most children love playing and investigating in the great outdoors. In fact, some of my fondest childhood memories are that of playing outside in nature eg. making perfume from leaves and water (yep, I did that and thought it smelt beautiful), jumping on the trampoline, swinging back and forth on the swing and feeding the animals.
Today, I am going to share with you 12 ways to celebrate play with nature. The type of play that is simple outdoor fun that the whole family can enjoy together.
‘Let nature be your teacher’ William Wordsworth
1. BUILDING WITH NATURE – children love building. A great way to encourage this type of play is in a practical outdoor space, one that provides the learners with the opportunity to explore and discover nature eg. Sticks, rocks, mud, dirt, hay etc.
2. LOOKING AT WILDLIFE – Australia is home to some marvellous wildlife and looking at it through a magnifying glass is nothing short of amazing. Provide your learners with a magnifying glass each and be blown away by what they find. Remember to provide supervision in case your little ones find some nasty creatures or the magnifying glass gets hot.
3. WATER PLAY – during the warmer months (pending drought situations) playing with water is an ideal activity for little learners. It is a fun sensory activity that allows children to develop hand-eye coordination along with maths and science concepts. We love using recycled plastic materials in water play eg. Yoghurt containers, yoghurt sachet lids, funnels, margarine containers and milk cartons. Remember safety is number one so supervision is essential.
4. STAR GAZING – Star gazing can be an incredible activity for little ones to enjoy. Set up a blanket and bring out a thermos to make hot chocolates along with some sleeping bags. Lie down and talk about the stars and constellations. Don’t know much about astronomy – research beforehand and make some notes on a post it to refer to.
‘When you go into the woods today, there’s sure to be a big surprise’ Anne Murray (Teddy Bear Picnic song)
5. PICNICS – are a great way to enjoy the warmer weather, jazz up a meal time, recharge the batteries and one that can accommodate families with multi-aged children.
6. SCAVENGER HUNT – there are so many fun scavenger hunt ideas including with nature. If you plan on making your own, keeping the children’s interest is paramount, after safety of course. You may search for items based on the five senses – things you can feel, see, taste, touch and smell.
7. NATURE CRAFT – collecting nature from the yard, local park or when out on a walk make for the ideal resources to create a nature craft activity. Some of our favourites have been leaf printing and sticky leaf collages.
8. GARDENING – whether it be a vegetable garden, herb garden, flower pot, bonsai, terrarium or a grass head, working with plants in the garden is a fun way to engage with nature. It is an excellent opportunity to converse and build vocabulary with our little learners too.
‘Thank you for helping me grow’.
9. PHOTOGRAPHY – something we have explored more of lately is photography. It has been an activity created based on interest and one that has offered our learners a set purpose in play. They have sought particular work samples, play experiences, scenes from everyday life to photograph, including nature and outdoor play…things that have been meaningful to them. What I have most loved about this, is seeing life through their eyes-the sheer simplicity of it has been nothing short of amazement. Our next step is to print these photos to display in the home art gallery.
10. OUTDOOR LIBRARY – Reading on a rug outside with our little ones, basking in the warm weather with a gentle breeze blowing our hair, sounds divine, right? There is nothing quite like a change of scenery and this is such a simple way of celebrating in nature.
11. NATURE PLAY PROMPTS – are a unique and creative way to celebrate nature play. They are a series of cards with a variety of activities to complete and at the very core encourage outdoor play. Available to purchase right here in store.
12. MUD KITCHEN – An on trend idea is a mud kitchen. Not heard of a mud kitchen? A mud kitchen is an outdoor kitchen often made from recycled materials to allow traditional dramatic play to be experienced outdoors. Here are some great tips to get you started.
Remember to ensure your little learners are supervised during all suggested play experiences.
How do you celebrate play with nature?
To learn more about play and to be inspired, join the celebration with Erin at:
Website – www.celebrateplay.com.au
Facebook Page – www.facebook.com/celebrateplay
Facebook Online Support Group – https://www.facebook.com/groups/celebrateplay/?ref=group_header