What is Nature Play?
Nature play is more than just outdoor play, it is active engagement with the natural world through child led, open ended exploration. Through nature play, children make observations, develop ideas and experiment to prove/disprove their ideas, engage in risk-assessment, and develop their understanding of themselves and their capabilities.
A toddler learns about balance walking across uneven ground, he uses his cognitive skills to assess whether he needs to put his hands on the ground to help him climb to the top of a hill. Young children make observations about what they see, comparing the shapes, colours and textures of leaves, and listening for the sounds of birds and squirrels.
Through research we know that preschoolers spend twice as much time engaged in active play as they do indoors, and that children are more interested in open-ended natural spaces and materials than the pre-fabricated play structures present in many community parks and educational settings (Participaction, 2015). Nature play allows for children to engage with their surroundings in many different ways, allow them to make choices, and challenge themselves through thoughtful risks. Brussoni (2018) states “research points to the importance of risk-taking opportunities in play for children’s health and development, including promoting self-confidence, social development, physical activity, and resilience. Risky play helps them learn about the world and how it works, learn about themselves and what their limits are, and learn how to keep themselves safe”.
Through play groups, resources, and professional learning, it is our goal to promote nature play and connect children, families and communities to nature through their local green spaces.