Natures Playground- A nature playground for children 9month -12
Iris Davies, Executive Director
Kamloops Child Development Society
Kamloops, British Columbia, V2B 4A3
September 24, 2012
Overview:. Kamloops Child Development Society We need a new playground!
The Kamloops Child Development Society has provided safe and inclusive childcare early learning programs to children and families throughout the Kamloops area for the past 45 years. Our existing playground was built in the early 90’s whereby it is in need of a fresh new face. Our dream is to develop a “Nature’s Own” playground. (See the attached climatic drawings and watch our video) So that children will learn and play in a Nature’s Own environment.
Our centre provides programmes for the ages 9 months to 5 year olds and 6-12 year old after school children. We are an all inclusive centre that supports many children with various developmental delays and with children with various mental health concerns. All of our staff are ECE educators with a dedicated interest in the ability to teach children of all ages. We are a fully licensed facility that accommodates 34% of the children with special needs, 63% subsidy families with low income and 6% Family care. We serve an average of 80-85 nutritious snacks (morning and afternoon) and Lunch’s. Many of our families live at a poverty level and/or are working at minimal wage. We recognize today that the majority of children are entertained by Television and W11 games. Yet when given the chance, love to jump in puddles and play mud pies as you and I did when we were children. Our dream is to expand that opportunity for children to lean to enjoy nature, experience building mud pies, examine bugs, watching butterflies and wiggly worms. Our staff was asked one question: tell me one fond childhood memory. The results of every staff member that chose to participate was startling similar: nature. The staff did not mention technology or the latest toy; they consistently mentioned multigenerational interactions, family, and games played with friends and siblings. How can we help the children in our care create these types of fond memories that still bring a smile to our faces?
Why children do better in a natural learning environment? Short answer: Its way more fun to play in dirt. You can build change and rearrange dirt, rocks, sticks and grass much easier than you can plastic, steel and turf. Nature play grounds offer children a wide range of sensory experiences such as the feel of dirt, grass, rocks and wood under their feet and between their fingers. Imagine all the different textures. These surfaces change with the seasons i.e. mud, dry grass, frozen rocks and water tuning to ice. Children can experiment with different amounts of dirt and water. Can you change the color by and adding grass? How much water is too much? What flowers do the bugs like to eat most? How many shades of yellow can you find? Does dirt weight the same as grass? Which tastes better? Are flowers for eating? Do all rocks weigh the same if they are the same size? Science is all around in a wild back yard.
“Natural-scaping” challenges children of all ages to maximize their gross motor development. An uneven surface is a lot more challenging to traverse than one of a leveled grade. A child who uses a wheel chair can come out of their chair and roll, climb, crawl, or slide down a grassy hill independently at a speed they choose, without “blocking” the path of others. This open access eliminates the need for adult supports adding to the child’s independence. This is not the case when groups of children with varying degrees of ability are playing together on manufactured playground equipment. One of the most natural things for a person of any age to do is to lie on the grass and look at the world from all angles. If you have ever done this, you know it seems to be one of the most relaxing things, when in fact your brain is working at its peek at a time like this. Your sensory system is engaged with the feel of the ground and the breeze, the smells in the air, the colours all around you, and all the different sounds. With all this going on in your brain isn’t it any wonder studies show that children who spend the majority of their time outside have a significant reduction in symptoms of ADHD. A statement that I hear a lot in the field of childcare is “children are under a lot of stress in the world today”. So let’s give them a chance to settle and be free even if it’s only for an hour a day.
One small step towards our hundred thousand dollar dream Come visit our web site www.cdckamloops.com