With so much time stuck at home, our kids are looking to the backyard (finally!) for entertainment. And it turns out, playing with dirt and leaves doesn’t just create beautiful childhood memories – it is a great learning experience, too.
Playing in nature is a great way to involve children in meaningful, multi-sensory and kinaesthetic learning experiences.
It can encourage a different way of thinking, enhance emotional development and even give children a chance to increase their self-esteem and confidence. This kinaesthetic style of learning is also accessible for most children.
With all of that in mind, here are five ways you can embrace nature play at home.
BUILD A STICK FORT
If you live near bushland, you should be able to find large branches and leaves to make a human-sized fort – if not, collect smaller sticks to make a tepee for dolls! Making a stick fort is all about balance, so prepare for patience to be tested.
MAKE A LEAF GARLAND
Collect fallen leaves then, using a thread and twine, pierce each leaf and thread the twine through the hole, repeating with each leaf. Soon enough, you will have a garland made entirely of leaves. Decorate them with paint or pens or leave (pun intended) them bare for a natural look.
PAINT WITH NATURE
Sticks, leaves, flowers and bark make interesting painting tools, and are perfect for creating unique artwork. With these ‘natural’ paintbrushes, your children will only be limited by their imaginations. Using flowers as stamps is also a creative way to apply paint, and you’ll get interesting textures from stamping with bark.
MAKE A (REAL) FLOWER CROWN
You’ve seen them all over Pinterest, but did you know the tools for making a flower crown are right outside your home? Collect an array of leaves and flowers and attach them to a piece of cardboard to make your very own.
BAKE MUD CUPCAKES
With toppings and all! Use silicon cupcake liners and plenty of soil, leaves and flowers to turn your backyard into a cupcake bakery. This is a great activity for learning about quantity, whilst letting the mini chefs also flex their creative muscles.