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Explorations with Ice and Snow for JK and SK: Part 2

Today’s Inquiring Minds post comes from Mrs. Jane Black, Richland Academy’s Junior Kindergarten teacher.  Mrs. Black has captured the exuberance of the children as they explored outdoors.

The children were ever so thankful for the ‘warmer’ temperatures and the bright sunshine that greeted them today at recess time. Three days of well below zero was just about enough for all!

Outside today, I travelled around the playscape and captured moments of play in photographs and words from the children.Play outdoors is important to children’s development in every major way: intellectually, emotionally, socially, spiritually and physically. (Kellert, 2005) A previous ‘sculpture’ was revisited, as the children added new elements to their rich creation.What is ‘Natural Play’ one might ask?  Kids find ways to play wherever they find themselves. Kids naturally find ways to play. Natural play can be simple. Play can be reflective of the environment, involve exploration, come from unique experiences and can be a celebration of the magic and imagination of each and every child.

“Look! I am having a snow bubble bath” exclaimed L.T.

“It was a very cold bubble bath….not warm at all!” ventured J.A.

In the Kindergarten playscape we have designed a space for children which evokes and connects children to the nature and beauty of the outdoors,. Even our visiting winter ‘fairies’ have captured the imagination of the children.A natural playscape is a “Creation of an unscripted play environment utilizing naturally occurring, recycled or reclaimed materials as play elements that are usable to all children.” (Encouraging Children’s Imaginative Play and Healthiness). Children are invited into play by using natural materials such as boulders, earth, water, and other elements of nature, avoiding plastics, concrete, and signs explaining ‘how to play’.

Areas such as those in our playscape inspire children to play creatively and to use their vivid and rich imaginations. We know that children are “Most content and happy when they live in harmony with nature rather than imposing their will upon it.” (Frank Lloyd Wright)

“I’m pouring the snow tea at our tea party” shared O.McA.

“I am tasting the tea” exclaimed I.N. and added to by M.A. with words of “It was simply lovely!”“How come the logs got smaller?” was a question that puzzled B.W. as he inspected the height of the snow and dug below the surface to see ‘if the log table and chairs had shrunk’. He quickly deduced that it was the snowfall that had piled up and made it seem like the natural items had become smaller.Less is more outdoors….as the children imagine, create, observe, honour nature’s beauty and give meaning to their play.

The ice and snow were indeed Nature’s most perfect vehicles and natural materials for play at Richland Academy today.

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