It’s an ancient idea made new again—a space where kids can be outdoors, immersed in nature, roaming, exploring, experimenting, imagining, and inventing their own playtime experiences. Natural playscapes are popping up all over the world, and we are proud to have recently opened the largest in the country (3 acres) and the first of its kind in Indiana. It differs from traditional playgrounds in a variety of ways, which makes for a unique experience for the kids at play.
The first difference visitors notice is that there are no swing sets, no slides, no jungle gyms. It looks like a giant back yard with some woods, some hills and puddles, a waterfall and a creek. But to kids, it might be the Amazon jungle, Mount Kilimanjaro, a fairy forest or a five-star restaurant; there are no boundaries on their imaginations. There is a plethora of materials available to them—rocks, sticks, leaves, logs, sand, mud, grapevines, water, acorns, gumballs, and wildflowers. There are places to climb, jump, scale, crawl, wade and splash. They can go solo or they can make new friends; it’s up to them.
It’s all about the adults standing back (or relaxing in the chairs we have scattered around), and letting the kids strike out on their own. They won’t get lost; it’s enclosed by deer fencing and there is only one entrance/exit. They may get a boo-boo, but natural playscapes of this type have lower injury rates than traditional playgrounds. They will get down to the serious business of play. They will have fun. They will get dirty. And they will get tired (a good thing, right?). There are many more benefits to this type of play, and we’ll explore these in the coming weeks on this blog. Meanwhile, come out and play!