Children learn through play
Most of my strongest childhood memories are of free, unstructured play in wild places near my home. Building huts out of fern fronds, playing explorers by wading down a stream in the Kaimais, collecting tadpoles and waving toi toi flags.
These experiences were a huge influence on the adult I am today, someone who believes conservation is vital. I’m trying to do the same for my own kids – but in this increasingly urban and tech-driven world it’s getting pretty hard. There are less “wild places” in cities. I’m competing with the TV, the computer, gaming devices, for their attention – and not always winning. Homework, sports and structured extra-curricular activities makes for busy lives.
There is growing evidence that children are increasingly disconnected from that natural world. International surveys show that fewer children are experiencing nature directly, with many playing indoors rather than out. Research also shows that childhood experiences with nature plays a critical role in determining life attitudes, knowledge and behaviours towards the environment. I know that’s true for me.
But how do we help families that may be disconnected from these opportunities, or who may not have had the same influences in their own lives, get reconnected?
Planning for nature play
It seems a bit like an oxymoron, but one way is to plan for nature play. Melborne Zoo’s Growing Wild exhibit and Melbourne Botanic Gardens children’s garden are two great examples of this.
In Christchurch, Greening the Rubble is venturing into the realm of nature play too. They have partnered with the Department of Conservation to create a nature-play garden in central Christchurch.
The garden will encourage families to discover – through free play – what is special about Canterbury plants and wildlife and how they can make conservation part of their urban lives as they recover from the devastating earthquakes. It will be interactive and exploratory, allowing for fun and learning.
And INNZ is supporting the project with a Pinterest competition!
Nature Play Pinterest competition
The project has a site and is now in the ‘gathering ideas’ phase. And we want you to come up with some interpretation ideas! You can share other’s ideas. But we also invite you to create your own! Be as low tech or high tech as you like. We are looking for creativity and innovation. It could be an art piece, a game, a landscape feature or an interactive sign. It must be aimed at children and families and it must have a conservation message. And it must be fun!
How to enter
- Follow INNZNET on Pinterest.
- Create a board named Nature Play – check out ours!
- Pin five or more of your favourite nature play ideas from around the world wide web.
- Pin your own original idea – as a sketch, info-graphic, photo or map – to your board. Include a description titled greening-the-rubble play.
- INNZ will repin your original idea to our greening-the-rubble play board and invite people to vote for their favourites!
- Email email@example.com a short description of your idea in less than 200 words; don’t forget to include your contact details!
- Entries must be received by 5 pm Friday 17 May.
The most creative and interesting board will receive a year’s free standard membership to INNZ.
The best original idea will also receive a year’s free membership, plus free entry to our Spring Workshop in Auckland in September and one night accommodation!
The best ideas may also appear in the Greening the Rubble nature play garden, which will be officially opened in September. If your idea is selected to be used in the garden, we will be back in touch on how you can be involved!
If you are not a Pinterest convert but would still like to enter your original nature play idea, please email an image and 200 words to firstname.lastname@example.org. Note: your entry implies permission for INNZ to upload your image to our competition board for voting purposes; source will be cited of course!