Jumping, balancing, climbing, running – that’s how our body is designed to move. The modern world though has kept physical activity limited, often in structured gym-based environments or formal sports. But we’re starting to realize the value of natural movement in an outdoor setting. Many organizations, such as the Oregon Ridge Nature Council, are creating natural play spaces for children.
Logs, rocks, dirt, tree stumps, sand pits – all encourage children to engage in the outdoors, explore their bodies’ natural abilities, and have fun. In other words, “play”!
Playing outdoors provides more variety than an indoor environment and encourages creativity and imagination. Studies have shown that it helps develop complex motor skills which stimulates brain function. It improves sensory processing – you’re feeling a greater variety of textures and material (think bark, mud, sand, rock surfaces) ; hearing more sounds (birds, critters, the wind in the trees); and awakening your sense of smell. Being outdoors can improve our mood, our ability to focus, and our energy levels – and how well we sleep after an active day outdoors.
It’s also important to stay within your limits, manage the risks, and play safely. We invite you to explore and play at our children’s natural play area!
A design of a potential natural play area: