Have a Play Date with Nature and Your Kid
Calling all prospective parents: Sometimes I happen upon a post that’s not so tailored just for the adoption marketplace, and this is one of those too-good all-natural posts that’s really perfect for all families.
In trying to plan our long afternoons off from first grade — the kid gets out before 3 pm, for goodness sake, I was happy to receive tips from the National Wildlife Federation in conjunction with research from North Carolina State University, which developed a thoughtful guide to creating enticing outdoor play spaces as close as a patio or balcony.
A “Guide to Nature Play Spaces” can help transform playgrounds, schoolyards, childcare centers, museums and zoos into spaces where kids can connect, play and learn.
The idea behind a nature play space is that instead of the standard metal and plastic structures that make up the bulk of today’s playgrounds, you can incorporate the surrounding landscape and vegetation to bring nature todaily outdoor play and learning environments.
- Gather natural materials like sticks, leaves, and grasses to use in imaginative play. The simplest nature play consists only of gathering some of nature’s “loose parts” already present in a yard.
- Collect branches, logs, sticks, and rope to build a fort, hideout or den.
- Use a hollow log, planter or corner of the yard to make a miniature scale fairy village. These become enchanted places that stimulate creative, make-believe settings.
- Plant or pot colorful, textured spices like rosemary, lavender and thyme to make a sensory garden.
- Set up small stumps of various heights that children can step across for learning balancing skills.
- Help with garden tasks like planting, watering and harvesting provide hands-on play and learning opportunities. Parents indicate they want their kids to experience nature, but it can be difficult to find an opportunity that fits a busy schedule,” said Allen Cooper, Senior Education Manager for National Wildlife Federation.
Log onto the Nature Play at Home Guide and start digging in the dirt, regardless of your outdoor space. Even patios and balconies provide opportunities for kids to connect with nature.
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