Kids love to be transported to a world of imagination. That phrase reminds me of the famous song Willy Wonka sang in the movie "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory" As a kid, that was my ultimate dream! Running around a chocolate factory eating everything in sight, which included candy that looked like ordinary every day items. A child's imagination is a powerful thing. I now try to look thru my own children's eyes when they see something special in something that might look ordinary to us. Playgrounds are the perfect place where a child's imagination can run wild.
Designing Nature Play
A well designed Nature Playground can open up a world of endless imagination and possibilities for a child to wander, engage and immerse themselves in a different reality. Kindda like the movie right? We want our children to be inspired and flex their imagination and a Nature Playground is just the ticket.
This Nature Playground design concept was inspired by a local coastal town. The ocean's salty air whips around the entire playground while children imagine themselves riding the waves, then getting caught up in a fishing net, or maybe swallowed by a whale. This nature playground design brings every detail of play and imagination together to produce an experience that is truly one of a kind!
This concept design is full of natural elements both real and pretend. The centerpiece of this design is the Kelp Forest/Jellyfish Towers, custom made by Elephant Play. Take a trip thru the Kelp and Jellyfish forest up to the highest point of the playground. Explore the Pods and escape down the slides to the sandy shores below.
The blue whale climber is a custom net climber by Elephant Play with loads of activities. Children can start at the mouth and get tangled up and swallowed by the Baleen Filter Rope Hang, then they make their way past the swing hammock, and continue on to the Water Spout Rope Scale where they can climb and pretend they are being shot out of the water spout. Continuing on to the climbing walls of the belly and finally balance on the whale tail at the end.
Children can pretend they are "catching a wave" on the Crashing Wave Climbers by climbing the net play equipment or surfing along side the wave on the Surfboard Spring Riders.
The younger children can delight in the under sea adventure of their own mini Kelp Pod forest and make music with Percussion Play instruments to round off the mood of the playground's mellow, under the sea theme.
Finally, take a spin on the Fishing Net Spinner by Elephant Play. Children can get the feeling they are tangled up and caught just like a fish! Every element of this design is meant to transform you into an underwater adventure and becoming one with nature.
Preschool Nature Design
Seaside Child Development Center wanted to push the limits of their school's new playground with a natural feel to the equipment. The designers here at Miracle used different manufactures to create this unique design for them. Elephant Play created some custom Robina wood structures featuring 2 steel slides, nets and under deck seat. The creation of the wooden boat with shade is a big hit with the kids. We used the Norna spider climber that kids can balance on, hang or hid in. The balancing post were simple and yet so effective to allow kids to perch and jump or have a seat. Percussion Play musical instruments added to the play area. A large artificial turf mound and steel slide allows kids to climb, slide and work together to conquer the hill.
Benefits of Nature Play
There are so many benefits of Nature Play. Studies show that when children spend time outside enjoying nature, they experience endless physical, cognitive, creative, social and emotional benefits.
Help Kids Get Exercise
A Nature Playground can provide a place for kids to get the exercise they need to be healthy and fit. By climbing, crawling, swinging or skipping, kids will burn energy and build muscle strength and coordination. A Nature Playground can feel more adventurous to kids which can encourage them to stay active for longer and keep them coming back time and time again.
Self-led free play is something kids don't get enough of in this generation. A lot of children's play comes from structured play. We need to get back to this important form of play. Even though structured play is still beneficial, when a child is given the freedom to play themselves, they can learn more independence, develop their creativity and enhance their self-confidence.
Many times children use the play equipment offered for its intended purpose but you always see those few kids using things in an outside-of-the-box way. While some express caution with this type of play, its actually a good thing to have a child use a piece of equipment in a safe way that is different than it's intended use. Nature Playgrounds usually have equipment that isn't super obvious on how it should be used. This open-ended design can help engage a child's imagination.
Promote Social Play
When kids engage in free play, they're also likely to engage in another important type of play - social play. Independent play has it's own benefits, but playing with other children offers so many benefits. Kids that play together on the playground learn to communicate, problem-solve and empathize with others.
A Nature Playground offers so many options for kids to make up fun games, pretend scenarios which make play so much more fun! Kids coming together to dream up, fantasize and explore their play space have a more fulfilling experience and come away from play with new memories and special connections with others.
Engage All the Senses
Sensory play is another important type of play especially on a Nature Playground. Sensory play can help kids develop more self-awareness and process their feelings. Time spent in nature can engage all the senses in ways that can be both calming and invigorating. Nature Playgrounds tend to be sensory-rich environments. Kids can feel various textures like bumpy wood bark or smooth river rocks or grainy sand. They can smell the flowers and other natural plants and hear a babbling brook stream or water fountain. They can engage their vestibular system as they balance on a log or exercise their proprioception sense as they climb up a rock wall or hill.
Instill a Passion for Nature
Children sometimes can feel disconnected from nature with all of the electronics and screen time they engage in. A Nature Playground is a way to encourage a child to be more connected to the natural world around them. Spending time outside is known to boost their mood and improve their health and they are more likely to care about the environment when they grow up. It's important to instill a love of nature in our future generations.
Nature Play Products
We offer many product lines for all of your Nature Play needs. Norna Playgrounds, Elephant Play, Miracle Recreation, UPC Parks, HAGS, Bimbo, Cre8Play, and Bison Pumps are just some of the brands we offer. Take a look at some of our most popular Nature Play products below!