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Nature Play is about encouraging kids to play outdoors more, using their senses and imagination to become more resilient, healthy and creative. It's about freeing them from the commercially driven world of electronic gadgetry, and letting them develop their own desires and goals.
Funnily enough, a lot of nature play is fun for adults too. Many of us are too caught up with our work and the daily grind to enjoy the things that are around us. Visiting a park, becoming more aware of the environment, and exercising can be very rewarding for all of us. Nature play is all about fun things to do, and the best part is that they are usually free.
This month though, Nature Play SA has chosen the Shepherds Hill Recreation Park as its park of the month. Visiting this park is an escape from the city - although you can get fantastic views of it from the park.
When I asked Jason from Nature Play SA what's special about Shepherds Hill Recreation Park, he said: What I do know about the park is it's an ideal example of the seasonal changes in nature. With hot dry summers creating an open dusty feel and the cool changes in autumn seeing hues of brown and green, it provides an ideal backdrop for play days and family adventures. In winter soursobs carpet the ground and wattles start their bloom. The creeks begin to flow, many gentle enough for little ones to splash about in their gumboots. And finally in spring, the warmer weather sees insects and other little creatures become more active. The air fills with the scent of flowering trees, shrubs and wildflowers, while the buzzing sound of pollinators rivals the sound of distant traffic. It really is an urban paradise.
Jason recently wandered through Shepherds Hill Recreation Park with a young family and a park ranger, looking for fun things to do for kids. There are many unstructured play opportunities that he found, and he shared a few with us.
Let your children choose where they would like to go, and follow one of the shared use trails
Take your bikes to the kids' zone if they have training wheels and are little ones, or the more advanced 'bowls track' for older more experienced riders
Find logs to balance on
Take a nature journal and write about the things you can see, hear, feel, and smell
When the creeks are flowing, take tour gum boots and have a splash
Collect and take notice of all the different feathers you find (remember to leave them behind as they are part of the ecosystem)
This is just a few of the many nature play fun things to do in parks for kids. Why not wander over to Jason's blog on the Nature Play SA site. If you have toddlers or young children, you will find it's a wealth of free things to see and do. While this month's tips are focused on Shepherds Hill, many of them are good to try in any South Australian park.