As a collective group Wellbank took part in Nature Play week which is aimed at connecting children to nature, natural materials and facilitating a greater connection to place and land. “Our Place” – the outdoors environment at Wellbank was transformed to remove as much man made unnatural materials as possible and to provide an environment filled with natural and recycled materials for the children to absorb, interact, connect with, and extend upon throughout the week.
The Green room went on several nature walks and spent a lot of time at the park. They collected natural materials from the park and used these materials as instruments to make music, tools to paint with and as collage materials to create with. The natural environment was also utilised to allow children to make connections between their favourite colour and the colours of nature. Each child was given a colour card to take on a walk around the centre. On this walk, they looked around to find things in their natural surroundings that were the same colour as their favourite colour. Once they found something, the children would take a photo of it using the iPad. They collected and sorted all the photos they had taken to make a ‘Colours of Nature’ canvas. Natural materials such as flowers and branches were placed on the drawing table to encourage the young artists to attempt a representative drawing of the natural environment. The Green Room also engaged in a sorting game were the children were invited to sort natural and manmade materials.
The outdoor yard was completely set up with natural materials. There was a collective ambiance of excitement from all the children as they entered the play space for the first time. Most notably was the response of excitement and anticipation at the natural gross motor set up, offering stacked crates, logs and ladders for the Green and Blue Room children to explore. There was so much activity and exploration around the wooden crates, that we decided to use one to create as book shelf in our book sharing space in the yard. The children jumped on the crates, lay on the crates, sat on the crates and felt the texture of the crates. Palm leaves were collected and placed in the rock pit which the children. Blue room loved to explore the textures of them and engage in imaginative play.
At rest, the Green and Blue room camped out! We placed our beds in the shade outside and fell asleep to the sound of birds chirping in the fresh air. At lunch time, we ate outdoors together and communicated about what we like about our outdoor environment. The Purple Room got involved by weeding the garden and making some “secret garden paths”. They created a little fairy garden by setting up some wooden stools so they could share stories and enjoy group time. The sandpit in the Purple yard was also full of wood pieces and cardboard rolls. The older children went over to the nature reserve behind the centre. There, they sat on the wooden bridge to read stories, collected some moss, big leaves and sticks and even spotted some lizards whilst they were there. They especially loved running around on the nice green grass. In the indoor environment the purple room had wooden toys and natural materials everywhere. The children also enjoyed painting with leaves and branches and made a nature collage using all the goodies gathered from the nature reserve.