(PS4): Natural Materials and Natural Play Environments (2 hours ECE-TRIS credit)
Providing children with opportunities to play in quality outdoor play environments that put them in direct contact with natural materials and naturalistic play environments supports healthy child development. Research links outdoor play and connection to nature with improved health, improved cognitive abilities and greater resilience. This workshop uses media presentations, small group activities and large group conversations to provide a better understanding of the specific benefits of nature-based play along with strategies and skills to implement new or improve existing play opportunities in any childcare program.
- The history and evolution of play from nature centric to technology centric and the resulting implications to healthy child development
- The research supporting our understanding of nature-based play
- How to evaluate existing playground facilities for their capacity to improve nature-based play
- Strategies for including nature in any play environment
- Developing simple plans for transitioning to better nature-based play environments
- The basics: wood, water, air, plants – and how to incorporate them in play
- Resources that support nature-based play environments
- The phased approach to nature-based play – one step at a time
- Describe the gradual evolution of play environments from nature centric to technology centric
- Identify ten natural materials that can easily be included in any play environment
- Be able to survey an existing play environment (in person or from plans) and suggest three ways to bring nature into that environment
- Create a simple plan to incorporate one new natural play structure into an existing play environment
- Identify three benefits of increased exposure to nature supported by research
- Name three online resources that can provide additional information about nature-based play
- Use photographs to assess and discuss play opportunities where children are engaged with nature
How does this training relate to early childhood education?
All humans, but especially children, have a natural affinity for nature-based materials and play environments. Research tells us that connecting children with nature supports healthy child development and disconnecting children from nature may be harmful. This workshop helps childcare providers understand that the capacity to connect children with nature differs from facility to facility but there are achievable ways to provide children with meaningful connections to nature in any environment.
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