We Play

When I was teaching, I once attended an interesting talk about a preschool project which was ‘all natural.’ For a period of about a month, everything that the children were given to play with had to come from nature and most of it the children, staff and their families collected themselves – rocks, wood, flowers, leaves, shells, sand, soil. The only thing the educators add (at appropriate times) was paper and glue – the children even made their own paints. It was amazing the learning which grew out of such a simple premise – all manner of language, art, maths and science.

So this week, I have been inspired to put more focus on the potential of natural materials in play. So far it has been a hit and Immy has had fun playing with the materials by themselves and at times adding other toys to the play too (I haven’t removed all of her toys, not quite as pure as the preschool project!) The photos below are from the first few minutes of play and I will endeavour to share more in the coming days when I will be adding other natural elements as well…
My favourite link from last week is a simple one but looks like so much fun (and honestly, aren’t simple play ideas the best after all?) Find it here.

Now it is your turn, what have you been playing this week?

And if you haven’t played before, please read this before linking up :)

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  1. Now you are making me feel more guilty about my daughter's very commercial play *sigh*

    It's okay .. I'll get over it :)

    They do look like some very lovely play materials!

  2. A bit of impromptu play here – if playing on the geology display means they enjoy the museum, let them climb!

  3. SquiggleMum says:

    I {heart} natural play materials. I always choose natural over plastic when it comes to toys too.

  4. Raising a Happy Child says:

    I really like the idea of this natural play. Sometimes it happens spontaneously here, but maybe I should "invite" it more often. Thanks for inspiration!

  5. That looks like some lovely play! I might head out to the backyard and see if any of my trees need a "trim" :)
    How very magical!

  6. jeannine: waddlee-ah-chaa says:

    I love this! This is great for a preschool room or some home learning fun. We spend much time in the backyard, making it easy for the children to play with natural materials. Bringing these items inside is wonderful play and investigation. :)

  7. I like the stones, we've got a little collection of polished stones sitting on our kitchen bench that my girls love to play with.

  8. Lovely! My boys love playing with shells too. :)

  9. You've got me interested, Christie! I look forward to seeing where it goes from here. Looks delightful!

  10. Narelle says:

    Natural materials are awesome for kid's play! That's why we are putting our kids through Steiner education. All of the play stuff there is from natural materials. We have a few things at home but you have reminded me that I need to collect some more – thanks!

  11. Hear Mum Roar says:

    We love our nature play here, too! Hey, I have just added my link, but I made a mistake with the picture, I'm so sorry! Please let me know if there's a way I can fix it.

  12. Christie - Childhood 101 says:

    Hear Mum Roar – when you look at the post there should be a small cross under your link. This allows you to delete it and re-link if you wish :)

  13. For some reason it won't let me add my link : (

  14. Hmmmm no idea but it still won't let me add my link so here it is for now:

  15. Hear Mum Roar says:

    Thanks, I'll do that!

  16. [email protected] says:

    Gosh Christie, this is such a nice idea….Can I ask where you got your collection of little logs? We often collect things we find our on our walks and have stashes of gumnuts, pebbles and leaves but I adore the little logs you have used.

  17. Christie - Childhood 101 says:

    Gill – they are tree blocks from Honeybee Toys –

  18. What a wonderful blog this is!

    Children and nature; a great combination. I'm all for it!

    Greetings from Finland, Europe. – Rita -

  19. Lovely natural play materials… Did you make the branch blocks yourself? I'm thinking I need to make some. Thank you for the inspiration.

  20. Juliet Robertson says:

    A lovely post. Here in Scotland there is a trend towards decluttering pre-school environments and having many more natural materials available.

    Natural materials inspire creativity and imagination in children way more than standard toys. For example, a car is almost always likely to remain as a car in children's play (transforming ones aside). Yet a lump of wood becomes so many more things: a shark, a piece of food, a home, a small world play, etc.

    Long live natural materials. I'm such a fan that I run courses on using natural materials in learning and play.

  21. Christie - Childhood 101 says:

    Tricia, I bought this set of Tree Blocks – the link is here

    Though I have been collecting branches to make some more of our own, just need to get round to cutting them up.

  22. [email protected] says:

    My son is in a sorting stage, so we have lots of "collections" that begin outdoors and come in: stones, pinecones, twigs, shells, etc.

  23. Busy Brissy Mum says:

    Christie, thanks for loving Piglet and his little game! He has finally been found in the fridge this morning so it's on to new hiding place for him.

    Because we're doing up a reno we now have some tools that will help make some natural toys/ blocks easily. Your idea is wonderful! I'm keen to give it a go too. We have pasta in our water trough after your We Play idea from last week. It is being enjoyed in our playroom this week.

  24. Where did you get those little stumps. I love them!

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