TPW Magazine — Nature Play

Children with dip  nets in woods at outdoor family workshop in Georgetown near Austin. Image from Texas Children in Nature

Children with dip nets in woods at outdoor family workshop in Georgetown near Austin. Image from Texas Children in Nature

This is Passport to Texas

While all play benefits children, experts agree that nature play is best. Yet, we’ve seen kids disconnect from it.

And that disconnect has resulted in a myriad of different health issues, wellness issues – and then even [affects] becoming the next stewards to take care of our natural spaces and wild things.

Jennifer Bristol coordinates the Children in Nature program. The concept of nature play isn’t new, but the collaboration to ensure children have access to it via a “playground” experience is.

Landscape architects, the childhood development people, and the playground designers all came together and said: ‘Okay, let’s create this space where children can interact with nature, but on a much smaller scale.’

Bristol said studies showed parents like playgrounds because they exist within defined boundaries, and parents can keep an eye on their kids.

Looking at that concept, the playground designer said, ‘Okay, let’s validate what the parents are feeling and that they need, but let’s make the elements that they’re playing with out of natural materials. Or, replicate things that they would find in nature, and use those to help them grow, develop their gross motor skills, problem solve, and then all the other elements when children actually are being active and playing in the outdoors.’

Jennifer Bristol wrote an article about the growth of Nature Play in Texas for the July issue of Texas Parks and Wildlife magazine.

The NatureRocksTexas.org website lists all the parks, nature centers and activities where you can play, explore and connect with nature near you.

For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti.

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