It seems to me that we all look at Nature too much, and live with her too little.
– Oscar Wilde
Children are drawn to nature. Whether its running through a pile of rakes leaves or splashing in a rain puddle, nature is undeniably irresistible. Despite this widely agreed upon phenomenon, many children’s spaces that I have visited do not reflect agreement in this matter, including my daughters’ room. While they have some natural toys, such as sea shells, by and large our toys are person-made.
The educators of Reggio Emilia encourage adults to consider how to bring the outside in, so to speak. Arguably, stocking natural materials in children’s play spaces for little ones to access at a whim is supportive of an attraction to nature.
How do I create play-spaces for the girls that reflect a respect and even their fascination with nature? I’m not sure, but for starters I’m going to place a plant into the girls’ room.
Access to Real and Natural Materials
Fall provides an abundance of natural materials that are ideal for little hands and mouths. With so many things to consider when offering infants toys, it’s nice to have some playthings that I feel good about offering to the girls.
Gourds and pumpkins have interesting textures and are colorful, making them great toys.
Nature provides toys that can be:
- Fascinating – What is more complex than the veins of a single leaf or more varied than grains of sand?
- Safe – I purchased several gourds that are too heavy for Moon to pick up but that she can push around a bit. Since they are essentially consumable, I feel confident that it is okay for her to touch, look at, and taste them.
- Affordable – We tried to grow pumpkins this year, so I brought all three that we grew inside for G & M to play with. For some variety, I bought a few other gourds for just a few dollars.
Last year, we kept the gourds for months before they started to rot. Now that Greysen is a bit older, I’m curious to see how she uses the pumpkins and gourds differently than she did last year. So far, the largest pumpkin is now Greysen’s favorite chair, which she sits on it while she plays her drums.