If you are a family with young children, you may have come across some of the fantastic nature playgrounds that have been appearing in parks and schools. Nature play has become quite a buzzword and rightly so – there is so much value in children learning resilience, problem solving and creativity through interacting with their natural world.
So how do we make our own gardens interactive for our children while keeping some sophistication and style for the adults?
Here are some simple things you can do to create a more interactive space for your children – these ideas can be added to your existing space without loosing its grown-up feel.
Natural Shade – one of the best ways to encourage children to spend more time outside is to create a cool, green haven outdoors. If you don’t have the natural shade of established trees, add a gorgeous green arbor, or a corner garden with a shady umbrella – greenery adds an unmatched natural coolness to outdoor spaces, and will encourage the whole family to linger longer outside.
- Sensory plants – add plants with textures, colours, smells, and different flower shapes and encourage children to pick off leaves, feel their texture, smell the smells or watch the tiny world of insects
- Interesting shapes and paths through the garden – even a few log slices between plants will encourage small feet to explore the garden
- Places to go – a cubby, tent, teepee, a table and chairs, a patch of grass, a reading corner – all provide opportunities for free, imaginative play
- Veggie patch – children learn so much from watching seeds that they have planted transform into flowers and food. Annual flowers and edibles are the most impressive for speed, and don’t need to be housed in large raised beds – they can be planted amongst other plants in your garden, or can be added to a feature planter.
- Activity boards – A fence or screen can be used to house a blackboard, activity board or hang a roll of butchers paper for a temporary art wall without using valuable realestate
- Container gardens – give your children their own creative space – the smallest pot of succulents can become a whole of fairies and craft opportunities
- Water play – encourage some shoes off old fashioned fun with water, with a mud kitchen or something as simple as a hose, sprinkler and bucket.
There are loads of ideas online, and with just a few additions, you can create a space that is not only engaging for children but a space for adults to enjoy too.