Are you looking for simple, low cost ways to create a natural outdoor play space for young children?
No matter the size of your space - or your budget - you can create natural spaces of wonder and adventure that engage the senses, spark the imagination and invite children to explore and discover.
Over the next 9 posts, "How to Create a Natural Outdoor Play Space" will look at easily sourced natural materials that can transform a backyard or playground into a place where where childhood memories and valuable connections to the natural world are made.
Why go Natural?
Quite simply, children prefer it.
It is unfortunate that children can't design their outdoor play environments. Research on children's preferences shows that if children had the design skills to do so, their creations would be completely different from the areas called playgrounds that most adults design for them. - White and Stoecklin
|The old rickety bridge over a dirt patch at preschool|
When given the opportunity, children choose to play in natural environments, and with natural materials. This is not so surprising when you consider the overwhelming play potential of natural spaces filled with - naturally - delightfully open-ended natural materials.
What Natural Elements do I include?
Outdoor spaces designed by children would not only be fully naturalized with plants, trees, flowers, water, dirt, sand, mud, animals and insects, but also would be rich with a wide variety of play opportunities of every imaginable type.
You can't go wrong if you include any combination of the following wonderfully open-ended natural materials in your play space:
Credit: Port Broughton Kindergarten
3. Animals, insects, creatures in ponds
3. Sand (especially when mixed with water)
4. Natural colour, diversity and change
5. Places and features to sit on; in; under; lean against; provide privacy; shade; shelter
6. Different levels, nooks, crannies, places to hide
Credit: Busy Bee Day Care
7. Structures or objects that can be changed, including lots of loose parts
Over the next series of posts, we will look at each of these elements in more detail.
Tomorrow: Just add water!
Series: How to create a natural outdoor playspace for children. Come with me and wander and dream through natural play spaces from around the globe. We will take our time and look at each of these natural elements in a bit more detail. We may just well find a few ideas that we can use in our own playgrounds or backyards to make them irresistible spaces for outdoor play:
Just Add Water
Just Add Sand
Just Add Greenery
Just Add Animals, Insects and Creatures
Just Add Stones, Logs, Stumps and Mounds
Just Add Places to Pause, Places to Hide, Places to Rest
Just Add Loose Parts
Natural Play Space Round-up