Helping young children to enjoy the great outdoors
Nature Play Week celebrates initiatives of all shapes and sizes with the purpose of reconnecting our children with nature and the outdoors. The week was developed collaboratively by individuals and organisations involved in the Kids in Nature Network. You can view the map to find your nearest events!
Here at the Cherry Bridge Station Early Learning and Childcare Centres in NSW, our curriculum has a strong focus on nature and the environment. The children can enjoy indoor and outdoor spaces which are specially provided to enable them to safely engage with, and care for, their own plants and nature areas.
Children create their own garden spaces, planting various seeds, decorating the pots and tending to them as they grow. Each child has the chance to tend to their very own project, helping them to develop many skills including patience, responsibility and the chance to be proud of their efforts as they nurture their own piece of nature.
As a state-of-the-art service provider, we implement a number of strategies to familiarise pupils with nature, but kids don’t have to be in the childcare centre to connect with nature, parents and families wishing to take a leaf out of our book can try some of the following:
- Pot plants, herbs or vegetables that the children can learn about and care for. These can be indoors or outdoors and anything from a tiny tub of cress to a towering sunflower.
- Install a bird feeder in view of the window so your child can feed and take an interest in the visiting bird species. Encourage them to identify or draw the birds.
- Set-up play areas using natural materials: wood, pebbles, bark, pinecones, sand and cork all make for interesting natural textures and encourage children to think and explore.
- Try some leaf rubbing and nature-based printing. Children can decorate their room with the artwork they have created or start a nature scrapbook.
- Have a treasure hunt for natural objects like leaves, cones, flowers, twigs, feathers and snail shells, then use them for some nature-based arts and crafts.
- Go on a nature trail. No matter the size of your outdoor space, if you look close enough, there is always plenty to see. Try taking photos or using a magnifying glass.
There are many great ways to incorporate nature into your little one’s day or outdoor playtime. Classic games like ‘I Spy’ can even be adapted for nature, just look around you and you’ll be amazed at how many natural things you can see.