Perhaps your children already spend a lot of time in your back - or front yard, or perhaps you’d like to encourage them into more outdoor play. Either way, think about how plants, trees, and loose parts can provide great opportunities for imaginary and other play outside.
Apart from beautifully cultivated gardens - whose owners can get upset if young ones tread on their flowers and plants - many gardens are suitable to play in, with their hardy native plants that are able to withstand vigorous play. These gardens are perfect for children’s play and for children to learn about plants, trees, their ecosystems, how to sense them and about other living organisms that deserve respect!
Here are a few pointers to look for when planting new greenery around your home:
1. Trees and plants that create loose parts, like twigs, interesting leaves, and seed pods.
2. Plants and leaves that are tactile – kids love to feel the different textures.
3. Plants and flowers that encourage wildlife – butterflies, bees, birds, and insects.
4. Climbing trees for a bit of fun and risky play!
Obviously, avoid the really prickly and poisonous ones!
Good Living from South Australia has put together a list of Australian native plants that can help transform your garden into a child-friendly forest. There may be a few that you won't find in Queensland, but most you can. They help you create arches and tunnels of foliage to attract butterflies, birds and children! There is something to suit every garden, which can withstand some vigorous kids’ play.
We understand you might not have the opportunity to rip up your garden, or you might not have a garden. Look for other opportunities in your local community (bushy) play areas that may offer a great intro to native plants and trees – look at your local parks and reserves and see what is there. And for another bit of interstate inspiration, check out the Royal Park in Melbourne to see how they’ve created an outdoor space that encourages children to play in and with nature.
Lastly, why not start the conversation at your school or Early Education Centre about including native greenery in their nature play settings. Gardening Australia shows the wonderful journey of Ivanhoe Grammar and how they have incorporated plants into play areas.
If you have stories to share about your children playing with natural loose parts, plants and in trees, we’d love to hear from you! Or let us know about your favourite bushy community play area where your children love to play. The address is [email protected] and don’t forget to send us some photos for a chance to be featured in our next eNews!