A natural play space is essentially a playground with is built mostly with elements either from nature or inspired by nature. Natural play spaces often use natural landscapes and materials in creative and interactive ways for child play and exploration. Materials like tree trunks, stones, logs are common appearances in these play spaces.
A research by the University of British Columbia shows that populating a playground with natural elements that feature sand, grass, and water can help reduce signs of depression in children. Researchers noted that many of the children appeared to be at a loss while filling their free time in conventional playgrounds, largely consisting of concrete play areas and lacking green features.
Apart from the studies, there is a range of known benefits that natural playgrounds provide:
- Enhanced creativity: Children need a constructive play that involves the manipulation of material to create things. It includes activities like creating sand structures, using logs for different kinds of play, finding their way across equipment like castle rock, etc. This imparts necessary skills and develops the creative ability.
- Aesthetics: Natural playground equipment tends to be pleasing to the eye. So it induces vitality in children and encourages them to spend time playing outdoors.
- Improved physical fitness: Climbing boulders, jumping on stump transfer and hanging on tree rocks are activities that influence children’s fitness.
- Cognitive development: Natural equipment makes children find their way around and pretend play. This in turn aids in cognitive development.
- Risk-taking: Natural play areas present elements of risk to children due to climbing and jumping challenges. Despite that, they balance the risk with adequate safety measures such as soft landing surfaces and generally softer equipment.
- Educational: Creative natural playground equipment, such as dinosaur digs, proves to be educational for children. They impart knowledge about various things such as fossils, history, and biology.
- Close to Nature: Urban lifestyles don’t facilitate enough interaction with nature. Most importantly, natural play areas keep children close to mother Earth in times of concrete expansion.
Henderson Recreation offers a whole playground line called “Nature Inspired Play” which includes various nature-inspired equipment like:
- Utah Climber – The Utah Climber was cast from a real rock in Utah. It provides an unprecedented real rock like climbing experience children will enjoy.
- Hollow Log Climber – What’s better than climbing on a log? Climbing through one! The hollow log provides a 360° climbing experience. A must for any nature-inspired playground environment.
- Log Steppers – Log Steppers are an essential natural play element that children love to traverse. Use them as an access climber to playgrounds or freestanding.
- Stump Transfer – The Stump Transfer can be used as a climber, bench or ADA transfer point to a point on PlaySteel MAX or PlaySteel Fit, which are other playground offerings at Henderson Recreation.
Other creative options include:
- Tree Rock
- Rattle Snake Point
- Dinosaur Digs & Climbers
- Nature Adventure Climber
- Log Beam
- Log Bench
- Large Boulder and Small Boulder
- Castle Rock
Hence, it is safe to conclude that we need more natural play spaces in Canada. For information on the aforementioned products and more, visit www.hendersonplay.com/nature-inspired-products/