Arbor Month 2014
Get Started With Nature Play
Here's where the fun begins! Think of the activities you enjoyed most in childhood. Does your list include climbing trees, building forts, finding frogs, reading in a quiet place, or playing in water? Every kid knows where the "wild places" are in their neighborhood. Can you make your wild places better?
Be OK with a little mess
Nature is beautiful, and sometimes messy. If you are a fan of manicured yards, create a nature play space that is less visible. Can you sacrifice some lawn and designate a corner for play? Consider building a low fence or create plant/shrub border around the play area if you wish.
Did you know that the stick was inducted into the Toy Hall of Fame in 2008? Sticks become swords, magic wands, and fishing poles. Nature play needs "loose parts," so bring in sticks, tree cookies, tree stumps, or plywood scraps for building forts. The nooks around the bases of trees can become fairy houses or places to leave secret messages.
Instead of hauling off dead trees from your yard, leave the trunk behind for use as a balance beam or seating area. Prune and limb sturdy trees for safer climbing. Remove sharp or hard objects from under the tree. Strategically placed stumps allow children to hop, skip, or jump from one to another. Large boulders and rocks provide hours of climbing and building fun.
Drag a hose to the nature play area to create a temporary stream or sand/mud pit, water plants, and also wash mud from hands and clothes. Provide buckets, funnels or plastic tubing to allow children to experiment with pouring water. A pail of water beckons as a place to dip fingers, float sticks, and sink rocks.
Bring nature to your yard
Everyone loves watching wildlife. Plant a few new trees or berry-producing shrubs, hang some birdfeeders, and provide a birdbath. Consider lining a small, shallow pit with a pond liner, add water, and watch wildlife abound! Water trickling from a small fountain can mask traffic sounds. Plant hardy wildflowers to attract butterflies, hummingbirds, and other beneficial wildlife.