I have been exploring NaturalPlaygrounds.com and they have an incredible resource page, full of links to interesting websites. Today, I am so inspired by MindStretchers. The text I share come directly from their website.
Nature is an incredible thing, for children and adults alike. The same garden is changing all the time, each day brings a new wonderment or something to marvel at. Nature can be a windowbox, a tub or a garden. Take the time to notice subtle magic going on around us everyday.
- Create a looking window which can be made out of a plain card with a small window cut into the middle of it. These little viewing windows focus children on the small sections of plants, bark, feathers so they see the detail
-Create "looking glasses" to encourage them to look at flowers, grass, logs from 10cm away
- Have a space for children in the garden where they are free to "get in a puddle". A space where they can dig freely, crete mud pies and feel nature around them.
Garden design from a child's angel would include a variety of features that may not appear obvious to adults but have been proven to inspire children
- Holes shaped through fences, walls, and hedges to peep into the next space/area of the garden
- Low level borders so that they can see eye to eye with the flower heads
- Tunnels of Hazel or Dogwoog to feel the sides as they run through
- Dens made of Willow tied to make a dome so they can hide and then look out on a garden around them
- Settling places that are enclosed so they can sit and watch away from the immediate gaze of an adult. Surrounded by things to stimulate their senses such as a broom to listen to, twisted willow to touch, honeysuckle to smell, and Lawn Camomile to walk on
- Bug homes to set up a real diversity to life, from snails to ladybugs
- Plants that offer the unexpected. Acquilga with its delicate flowers and ratty seed pods. Sunflowers with their incredible growth rate, Chocolate cosmos with its unusual smell
The wonder and joy children show about the world around them is truly inspiring. To a young child everything in your garden has a huge amount of potential, whether it is a pile of autumn leaves, a muddy puddle or some old rose petals. As adults we look at a pile of leaves and we think of clearing and preparing, when a young child sees them they see the opportunity to sing and dance in a shower of leaves. We see puddles as poor drainage, they see it as a place to splash and make a home of sticks and stones for a couple of plastic frogs. We see old rose petals and think about dead heading, they see them and leap at the chance to make some pungent rose petal perfume to sell in a shop made of an old bit of wood and a couple of bricks.
Children display a range of talents or intelligences, that affect the way they play and learn. One child may love to plant lobelia and marigolds in rows, another will spread them out in a random fashion in a way they like. Not only does the brain have dominant aspects it also needs sensory stimulation. Life for some children has become too sophisticated too soon. Making petal perfume and mud pies helps them to learn about all areas of knowledge for example when you consider science they will explore consistency, capacity, absorption, scent, and decay.
So the message from all of this is simply give them a bit of space. Perhaps there is an area of the garden that they can dig over and over and never really grow anything, or a puddle that could be developed with a few large stones.