Our safe and accessible natural playscapes facilitate a variety of open-ended play experiences that encourage imagination and creative play while meeting a child’s emotional, cognitive and physical needs.
Gross Motor Play
Motor play provides critical opportunities for children to develop their fine and gross motor skills as well as their dexterity and balance through exploring, risk-taking and having fun on the playground. Research has confirmed the critical link between stimulating motor activity and brain development. When children have an opportunity to move and play in a rich play environment, they are developing neural pathways and learning as they play,
Examples of motor play activities include running, jumping, hopping, throw and catch games, climbing up, down, over, under and through things, push and pull, and dump and fill.
A variety of opportunities for children to engage in social play helps them to progress through each stage of social development. By interacting with others in unstructured play settings, children learn social rules such as give and take, cooperation, and sharing. Children also learn to apply moral reasoning and to develop a sense of values.
Examples of social play activities include taking turns, cooperative construction, community gardens, charades and team sports. Social play also includes games of self-control such as “Simon Says” and “Red light, Green light” which give youngsters practice in following directions and regulating their own behaviour.
When children manipulate their environment to create things, they are engaging in constructive play. Constructive play allows children to experiment with objects, discover combinations that work and don’t work, and to practice basic skills such as stacking, building, drawing, making music and constructing. Constructive play also gives children a sense of accomplishment and empowers them with control of their environment. Children who are comfortable manipulating objects and materials also become competent at manipulating words, ideas and concepts.
Examples of constructive play activities include building towers with blocks, playing in sand, constructing contraptions, and drawing murals with chalk on a wall or sidewalk.
In fantasy play, children develop abstract thinking by trying out new roles and scenarios, and by experimenting with language and emotions. Fantasy play helps children develop flexible thinking, to learn to create beyond the here and now, to stretch their imaginations, use new words and word combinations in a risk-free environment, and to use numbers and words to express ideas, concepts, dreams, and histories. In an increasingly technological society, providing children opportunities to engage in various forms of abstraction – time, place, amount, symbols, words, and ideas – is essential to their healthy development
Examples of fantasy play include role-playing, story-telling, and pretend games.
Games with Rules
Developmentally, most children progress from an egocentric view of the world to an understanding of the importance of social contracts and rules. Games with rules cannot succeed without cooperation and with all participants understanding and adhering to the same set of rules.
Games with rules teach children a critically important concept – the game of life has rules (laws) that we all must follow to function productively in our society.
Examples of games with rules include “Follow the Leader”, “Red Rover,” “Simon Says,” and team sports such as baseball and soccer.