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Children''s Play

Children who play well, develop properly.

Children who are deprived of play opportunities will develop abnormally; and are likely to suffer problems as a result, later in life. Adults who cannot or do not play, usually suffer greater stress. Children in fact learn more life skills through play, than through formal education.


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 An extract from John Mason's book "The Environment of Play"
(Click here to purchase as an e book)

Not only can the environment influence play, but play can also influence the environment.

Play should consider the environment in planning for its future. Over use of an area can lead to its deterioration, thus depriving future generations of play opportunities. Conservation, pollution and such issued should be of interest to anyone concerned with play.

A very valuable form of play involves changing the environment. Building cubbies, digging holes, damming streams, etc. are all very positive and worthwhile forms of play; but at the same time, they are activities which are best tempered with commonsense if permanent damage to the environment is to be avoided. Never discourage children from playing with their environment, but always educate them to understand the implications of what they do.There are four different things to be found in environments:

1. Animals ‑ Everything from microscopic protozoa, through snails and spiders to the more complex vertebrates such as birds, lizards, dogs and cats.

2. Plants ‑Again, from the simplest microscopic bacteria,through the mosses, fungi and ferns, shrubs and trees.Play can be centered around complete living plants (e.g.: growing a garden) or parts of plants (eg: arranging flowers or making a whistle from a piece of bamboo).

3. Earth ‑ Stones, rocks and soil, etc. are all commonly used in play.

4. Man made things ‑ Toys and playground equipment would fall into this category obviously; but maybe not as obvious these things have great play potential.Too often, however, instead of exploiting the play potential of these things, we discourage or even ban play around them.

Children will play in buildings, streets and alley ways whether they are allowed by adults or not. Perhaps with some changes in design or management of cities, homes, schools, parks, etc. things which are not primarily intended for play can contribute in a real way to improved play possibilities.


  • Brick walls can become rebound walls.
  • Introducing traffic controls onto streets can make them safer for play
  • Fences and walls can be used for murals or graffiti.
  • Car parks when not in use can be used for basketball or skateboarding.
  • Trails (Fitness, Nature, Environmental, etc.) can be developed along footpaths or road reserves.
  • Disused vehicles (trains, tractors, trams, boats, etc.) can be located in a park as a shelter or a play structure.

 Through playing with the environment children AND adults will...

 LEARN TO PROTECT the environment.   To appreciate its value and to respect the delicate balance which needs to be maintained to retain order.

 LEARN TO PRODUCE.  Everything we have and depend on for life comes from the environment.  Environmental play can teach people where food comes from and how to produce it.  It can provide insights into the way clothing, tools, shelter and other day to day necessities are obtained.

 There are many different ways people can play with the environment:


A trail is simply a path or track which people can follow. Trails simply take people along a specific route exposing them to specific environmental situations as they progress. Trails can be made anywhere, they can be short or long, they can expose people to all different types of experiences; physical activity, historical features, sensory experiences or nature mention a few.  A trail which leads along a street can be used to highlight the features of that street.  A trail around a series of play structures can be used for development of motor(physical) skills.  A trail through a bush area can lead to a greater understanding of the natural history of that area.


This can involve anything from growing vegetables or planting trees to making a hanging basket or bottle garden.


Animals can be magical in children's play.  Whether it be milking a cow, riding horse, collecting eggs or simply keeping caterpillars in a cage until they spit a cocoon and eventually emerge as a butterfly; play with animals is always magical.


An old but very basic form of play is collecting.  Both children and adults like to collect things, and people make collections of everything and anything imaginable; rocks, leaves, shells, insects, bottles, stamps, coins, etc.


Many common crafts are based on the idea of environmental play: dried flower arranging, shell craft, bark painting, making all types for things from bamboo, driftwood craft, making herb products such as pot pouri, etc.


Many types of sports are based on the idea of man putting himself against his environment.The notion involves finding a challenging environment and trying to conquer it.  Canoeing attempts to challenge the roaring rapids of a river.  Mountaineering attempts to conquer difficult steep slopes of a mountain.  Orienteering attempts to avoid becoming confused and lost in a complex involved environment.  

To learn more about play; or to enrol in our course, click here.

[04/07/2022 00:51:42]