Many people use the term natural play to describe fixed play equipment in the outdoor environment but what do we mean here at Playgarden by natural play? We want to encourage children to explore and enjoy their natural environment – to play naturally.
We want to maximise opportunity for balancing, chasing, climbing, crawling, creeping, dodging, hiding, hanging, hopping, hunting, jumping, paddling, rolling, running, sliding, spinning, swinging and tumbling. Lots of natural features, with loose parts in plentiful supply, encourage a playful engagement with nature. Our natural playgrounds afford a variety of play opportunities including den building, small world play, scavenger hunting, pond dipping, bark rubbing and potion making… the list is endless.
Playgarden understands that reconnecting children with nature and the outdoors is something that is high on the agenda for nurseries and schools, looking to influence how children play and relate to one another.
Increasing research supports the view that children’s play in natural settings offers wide-ranging benefits. And one of the few opportunities for children to interact with nature and ‘play out’ freely is through school break-time. Children feel much more relaxed, able to communicate freely and feel much more in control of their play and social interactions.
We understand that for many schools and nurseries, creating a natural outdoor environment to support break-time activities for all pupils, no matter what their age, is increasingly important. It is clear that pupils value playing in natural spaces as the content of these environments is likely to offer rich possibilities for active and creative engagement.
Natural playground environments support the school and early years curriculum, encouraging imagination, exploration and diversity, offering playful engagement with nature. Natural materials that are alive, ever-changing and renewing themselves have very high play value, adding to the complexity and richness of a play environment.