A natural playground is a space with as little man-made components as possible. It replaces conventional materials like metal and plastic with natural elements like stones, logs, water sticks etc. Nature playgrounds often use natural landscapes and materials in a creative and interactive way for child play and exploration. Natural playground equipment is designed with the intent of making children interact with their environment. Hence it enables them to make discoveries through open-ended play while being close to nature. They are created for the enhancement of a child’s curiosity, imagination, and wonder. It nurtures a child’s connectedness and affinity for the world around them
There was a survey conducted by Natural Playgrounds asking 600 children to name their favorite thing to do outside. The top choice was “Being Quiet”. It included activities like drawing, finding sticks and carving them. Next choice was “Building/Inventing Things”. This included building forts, tree-houses, and other creative structures children come up with. Third on the list was “Climbing” i.e. climbing trees, mountains, and other things. Additionally, exploring, digging, and playing around water also made the list. While some kids said they liked “hanging upside down,” things like monkey bars or swing sets didn’t make it to the list. This shows how natural playgrounds have emerged as an increasingly popular choice for children with respect to traditional playgrounds.
Apart from the growing popularity, there is a range of benefits that natural playgrounds provide:
- Enhanced creativity: There are only a limited number of things children could do with fixed, unnatural equipment. This kind of play limits development. 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 aesthetically pleasing. So it induces vitality in children and encourages them to spend the good amount of time playing outdoors.
- Improved physical fitness: Natural playgrounds are not only meant for children to have fun. Because the rugged equipment of natural playgrounds is beneficial to health. Climbing, boulders, jumping on stump transfer and hanging on tree rocks are activities that improve children’s physical fitness.
- Cognitive development: Natural equipment makes children find their way around and pretend play. This in turn aids in cognitive development.
- Risk-taking: It is imperative for children to learn to confront risks as part of their development. 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 like dinosaur digs proves to be educational to 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 urban expansion.
There are a good number of playground equipment manufacturers and suppliers in the market. To choose the best one for your needs, it’s important to consider factors like age, expertise, safety and standard certifications of manufacturers. It should be a company old enough to have the expertise in the industry and have more certifications for standard and safety. One such manufacturer is Henderson Recreation. Started over 47 years back as a family business by Mr. Gordon Henderson in Ontario, Canada, Henderson Recreation is one of the distinguishing companies in the playground business.
Henderson Recreation offers a whole playground line called “Nature Inspired Play” dedicated to this segment. It 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
For more information on these products, go to www.hendersonplay.com/nature-inspired-products/
In conclusion, natural playground equipment is fun, aesthetic, functional and developmental. It could be installed almost anywhere with relative ease. It makes logistical sense for private and public establishments alike to install it. For assistance on installation, contact our team at Henderson Recreation.