Nature and discovery

two children building a fairy garden outdoors

Taking small world play outdoors

Childhood is a time of imagination. Every child needs to be given time and space to play out what they envision in their minds. Children’s literature is full of woodland folk – dwarves, elves, fairies, pixies and gnomes. Take these imaginary creatures into your outdoor play and allow children uninterrupted time to build fairy gardens for woodland folk using natural materials. Building a fairy garden will absorb a child’s whole being, maximizing his or her attention span, imagination and creative skills.

Read the whole article here.

Child with flower and adults lower face

Babies are scientists

The first time an infant knocks a cup of milk from the table, it’s an accident. The next time, it’s clearly intentional. Will the falling cup produce the same intriguing splash on the floor (and the same exciting noise from any adult nearby)?

Science is about forming and testing hypotheses. This is what babies do all the time! They are continually experimenting and investigating, fuelled by curiosity and an innate drive to figure out their world. As long as these little investigators are surrounded by interesting things they will continue to explore and learn.

The natural world, with its constantly changing colours, textures, movements, and sounds, provides a uniquely stimulating environment for young children. Take a young child outside and you can just about see the “lights go on”. So why is it that this age group is mostly kept indoors?

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three young boys playing next to a stream

Insights from Friedrich Froebel

Young children learn naturally when allowed to explore and discover, manipulate and practice newly acquired skills through play. Play is not trivial, it's children's tool for growth. Read this short piece by Dr Stella Louis and Dr Sacha Powell for some insights from the founder of the first kindergarten, Friedrich Froebel. 
young child looking closely at a green caterpillar

Wonder: a survival skill

In the last generation we've seen forces such as commercialism, academic pressure, and a “too hurried” lifestyle crowd out the space and time it takes to cultivate a sense of wonder in the natural world. Suddenly this has all completely changed. Perhaps parents and children spending more unscheduled time together at home will have time to watch, wonder, and appreciate the small, everyday spring miracles happening right outside the door.

There are many nature-related activities you can do with young children that require little more than stepping outside. Dr. Ruth Wilson offers some suggestions to get you started. Read here.

 
young child enjoying pretend play with mud

Encouraging mud play

Children plunge into messy play with great enthusiasm and no hesitation about getting dirty.The adults in their lives, however, may need a little more encouragement to understand the value of playing in and with mud.

Launching a mud area in your play space requires careful planning and communication with staff and families.This article offers advice on how to get over those hurdles.Then, let the fun begin! Read this.

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