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Benefits of Free Play in the Great Outdoors

Posted by on in Movement and Play
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DSCN2610Carefully arranged found nature items.

Children are naturally creative. When given the space and the freedom, they will create their own play situations that can entertain for hours. And, when provided the opportunity to use more open-ended objects, children transform them into imaginative items seamlessly incorporating them into their play. An old cardboard tube becomes a telescope. A stick becomes a fishing pole. A mix of mud, rocks, leaves, and water becomes a delicious soup. Ordinary becomes extraordinary when kids are allowed time for free-play, where they can invent and discover without expectations and pressure to finish a particular product. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, children need unplanned play for creative growth, self-reflection, and decompression. This progress can occur with free play because there is less pressure due to the fact that there is no right or wrong way to create. Children are allowed to make their own choices, resulting in self-confidence and independence.

DSCN4337Fishing off of the deck.

The outdoors can be a wonderful place for free play. Toys are not a necessity. Children can explore, create, and imagine with simple, found objects, learning about themselves and the world around them. Take a nature walk with your children. Let your kids play freely in the great outdoors – in you backyard, at a park, or any other natural area. Experience the joy that this type of play can provide.

*This post originally appeared on my blog, Backyard Learning.*

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I’m Sarah. I am a licensed middle school science teacher, with an M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction. My teaching experience includes several years in experiential/outdoor education as well as time as a public school middle grades science teacher. In a world that is filled with more and more screen time, it is my pleasure to share here lessons and ideas for engaging children in science and the natural world.

My family and I live on a small homestead, where we raise chickens, goats, and grow lots and lots of food. I have three young children who spend a great deal of time outdoors. As a family we enjoy hiking, gardening, swimming, fishing, snowshoeing and skiing, reading, and art.
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Guest Sunday, 10 December 2017