In the past few years, we’ve noticed an increase in childcare facilities focused on nature-inspired activities and nature-themed playground equipment. And the Early Childhood Family Center (ECFC) in Stillwater, Minn., is just one example of a childcare facility providing opportunities for kids to reconnect with nature.
“Our ECFC chose a nature-inspired playground, which accents the surrounding landscape,” explained Betty Soine, early childhood supervisor. “Also, research supports the value of using natural environments to encourage children’s overall growth and development. Our parent education program encourages parents to get outside with children during all seasons to experience the variety of outdoor environments, breathe the fresh air and explore the wonders of nature through the eyes of their child. An outdoor play environment that mimics nature supports a health and wellness focus for all our families and staff.”
The Early Childhood Family Center added a nature-inspired playground designed for kids ages 6 to 23 months. The Infant Single Poly Slide, Infant Balance Bar and Chimes Panel provide the right amount of sensory stimulation, balance, coordination and strength challenges. Even more, a play space for kids ages 2 to 5 has realistic bark, wood and rock textures, natural colors and discovery items like chipmunks, worms and insects built into the Log Stack Climber, Log Steppers and Recycled Tree House Roofs.
“Equipment was chosen with children of all abilities in mind,” said Betty. “Our team of staff professionals studied and selected types of equipment that could support building strength, mobility and cognitive skills through interactive outdoor play. The children are engaged in all types of movement and activities everyday that encourage and support physical, social and emotional, language and cognitive development. Our nature-inspired playground does exactly what we envisioned and more!”