playing with and in nature
The Polliwogs group started with the usual excitement as we played a game about birds eating bugs. We headed out on a walk, stopping for snack and a story. The children had lots to add to the conversation, and I’m always amazed at their knowledge!
After our usual beginning to the morning, the exploration and play took off! Our little explorers found secret rooms under the pine trees, as well as secret doors and secret pathways. The excitement was contagious! Where does this secret trail lead to?
They found trees to climb, monkey bar branches to swing on, and lots of dead branches. The children played school, survival and house, their imaginations in full swing.
Discoveries abounded! A dead frog, piles of snail shells, and hills to run down.
The most fabulous thing about the Polliwogs today was that they didn’t need any toys: they were completely engaged in playing in and with nature - the branches, trees, pine needles, snail shells, leaves, rocks and hills were their toys.
Their joyous, spontaneous play reminded me of the characteristics that distinguish play from other activities (taken from Peter Gray and from Kenneth Rubin).
4. Play allows children to leave reality, with its time and space constraints and soar with their imaginations. Some children played school - complete with cubbies for the backpacks! Coming up with explanations also involves imagination and creative thinking. What happened to the frog? Why were there so many empty snail shells? Children had to think about different realities of creatures in order to come up with theories.
5. Play is fun! The joy seen on faces and heard in children’s voices was contagious. There was joy in running down a hill or being “up high” in a tree. There is excitement in collecting rocks or shells. There is peace in resting on the forest floor.
It is a pleasure to join these children in their playful approach to life and to nature.
by Giselle Carter
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