This past April the San Diego Children and Nature Collaborative (SDCaN) hosted its fourth annual Pop Up Nature Play event at the San Diego Earth Fair in Balboa Park. Over one hundred children and their families from across San Diego spent the afternoon creating what can only be described as a mini village of magical structures with nature’s loose parts.
During this one-day event, children of all ages are invited to engage in unstructured outdoor play with the collection of natural materials including bamboo poles, sticks, tree cookies, pine cones, shells, and palm fronds. From teepees to fairy houses, children work together to bring their ideas to life.
Although many of us grew up during a time when unstructured, outdoor play was part of our daily lives, today’s children are given little time, if any, for these types of experiences. The goal of Pop Up Nature Play is to grant every child the experience of playing with natural materials. From asphalt yards to open fields, Pop Up Nature Play can be replicated almost anywhere for little to no cost. Whether offered as a permanent play setting or as a one-time ‘Pop Up’ activity, Nature Play helps to stimulate creativity, promote discovery, and encourage teamwork, all while fostering an enjoyment of, comfort with, and respect for nature.
Next time you remove a tree on a project or oversee a landscape clean up, think about how you can use these discarded materials to bring nature into the everyday lives of children.
For more information on SDCaN and Nature Play, visit the SDCaN website.
by Ilisa Goldman, MLA, RLA, ASLA
Rooted In Place Landscape Architecture and Consulting
SD Children and Nature Collaborative
Rooted In Place Landscape Architecture and Consulting was founded by Ilisa Goldman in 2012, with the goal of bringing dynamic, healthy outdoor spaces to schools and communities. In her work, she seeks to connect users to the world around them, embracing local ecology, history, and culture. Goldman is a local leader in the ‘Children and Nature’ movement, helping to educate the design community and raise awareness of the benefits of designing and developing outdoor spaces to enhance children’s nature experiences. For more information on Rooted In Place Landscape Architecture and Consulting visit their website.