On a sunny Spring day, in the first week of Term 4, our youngest SPW students played for hours on the beautiful Nutter Thomas Lawns as Maria Taylor from Nature Play SA facilitated an outdoor event.
Nature Play Activities
The Nature Play activities embraced sensory experiences in the outdoors, such as; mud mess, potion making, stirring, pouring, mixing, cinnamon play dough creations, cubby house construction, mask making with natural materials and stick houses.
Each activity station was presented in a very inspiring and inviting way. The materials provided were simple, natural and tactile. The spaces provided open ended learning for the children without guidelines for a final product.
“The best classroom and the richest cupboard is roofed only by the sky.” – Margaret McMillan
The children were organised in to multi-age groups of around 10 children. This was a wonderful opportunity for our 4 Year Old children to take on the role of supporting the 2 and 3 Year Old children.
Educators observed the 4 Year Old children demonstrating a very caring and nurturing manner with the younger children as well as an increase in their own confidence.
The 2 and 3 Year Old children modelled the behaviours and learnings of their 4 Year Old buddies, becoming risk takers as they bravely tried some of the ideas suggested by their buddies.
“The more risks you allow children to take, the better they learn to look after themselves.” – Roald Dahl
Throughout the morning, multi-age friendships were established or rekindled from previous experiences.
Benefits of Multi-age Play
The benefits for multi-age experiences include the development of children’s social skills as they observe, participate and navigate their own social interactions and that of their peers. It provides real life opportunities to develop communication skills as children express their needs and ideas and accept others.
Multi-age play can also inspire new thinking and skills from younger children and consolidate ideas for older children.
Embracing the Outdoors
As the day progressed the children’s engagement in the natural environment deepened. It was incredible to see what the children created with the resources and how they played in each space. Those children that were initially reluctant to participate in sensory experiences became less anxious and relaxed in to the outdoor setting.
Throughout the day the peaceful music of Ludovico Einaudi (Italian pianist and composer) played. The children ate their lunch on picnic mats looking at the creations from the morning and reflecting on their experiences.
Our 4 Year Old children rested on the lawns enjoying the warmth of the sun, the fresh air and breeze, the smell of grass, cinnamon and flowers and the sounds of the piano calming their bodies.
It was a very successful day for all involved, but most importantly the children embraced the experience and brought back ideas to their play spaces within the ELC to continue their learning. The children often have opportunities to play collaboratively in the ELC during the core day through organised activities as well as 2 – 4 Year Olds combining together before and after core day hours.
Thank you to Maria Taylor, Kirsten Guppy, Annastasia Callisto and all educators for embracing the ELC Nature Play Festival.
Thank you to Sarah Noell, Head of Early Learning, for sharing this story.