Getting started with Bush Kinder - Part 2

What exactly is Bush Kinder?

Phoenix Support for Educators are a team of coaches, mentors, and specialist facilitators who know their stuff. 
We support educators – it’s our job. 

Meet a couple of our team members - Narell Neville and Jennifer McCormack. Narell and Jen are educators, artists, storytellers and experienced nature play facilitators who have pioneered the nature play movement on the Gold Coast with their business Birdwings Nature. We sat down the Narell and Jen to discuss Bush Kinder in further detail. . .


What exactly is Bush Kinder?

Bush Kinder is a general term used for facilitated place session with children in nature. Ideally, bush kinder will involve free time for children to explore a natural environment with social play, elemental play, natural art and discovery.

Adults are present to experience nature with children: guiding, discovering wondering and playing together.



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


How does it work?

Our programs are rhythmic: each session follows the same general pattern of activity and children know the flow of the day so they can relax into all parts of it. We have a home base where we will keep our belongings, eat, rest and craft. From here we head off on adventures together to play, explore, discover and challenge ourselves.

What qualifies a place for suitable play?

We like our place to be a bit wild, with spaces of grass to run on, trees to climb, a creek with waterfalls to play in, pools to immerse ourselves in, rocks and boulders to climb, fallen logs to scramble across, hiding places, bushes, shrubs, gullies, terrain that is interesting and a bit tricky to navigate. We are not fussy (but actually we are!). Such a variety of surfaces help children use parts of their bodies in new and different ways, stretching and developing muscles, balance, coordination and a sense of place in space.

What are the benefits for children?

The benefits are so numerous! EVERY part of a child’s development is challenged and stretched when they have regular time to play in nature. We know about the physical benefits with children’s spatial awareness, coordination, balance, strength, sensory and muscle development, and this is why we began these journeys into nature with children. Nature’s occupational therapy! We’ve also seen wonderfully exciting growth for children in their speech and language development as they talk about their discoveries, share stories with friends, recall events, describe feelings, textures, colours and movements. Nature provides many provocations for conversation and development of vocabulary. Socially, we have found children are calmer and more focused in their play when they have room to move, space to explore and an abundance of friends to play with. Through regular play in nature children begin to develop a whole picture of themselves, their world and the relationships and roles we have within this ecosystem. An incredible sense of self-confidence emerges when children have formed a close connection to the natural environment.

What age is this appropriate for? 

Birdwings offers nature immersion programs for children from their infancy up until they are ready to become mentors with us in their teens. Beyond this we work with adults of all ages to develop a deeper connection to nature for self and professional development.

Nature play doesn’t have an age limit!

Do the children do art or play with toys?

Absolutely we do art - however we approach creative play with a different perspective. Free expressive art happens naturally as we explore the qualities of our environment. We make rock paint, patterns, weave, build and use the colours of items we find in our environment. We also practice handcrafts, learning skills to sew, make felt, making purposeful things and our own toys. How do you define art? Our art is not restricted to a collage trolley and an easel with paint. 

What constitutes an ideal play location? 

We like to have access to a natural flowing water system such as a creek. This provides us with plenty to explore and discover in terms of natural observations. It must be a little bit “wild”

Do they really stay outside all day?

Yes we do. If the weather is extreme we seek shelter under cover, however this is rarely the case.

What if it is raining?

Rainy days are adventurous days! The world looks so different when it is wet. We enjoy how the rain changes our environment and our way of experiencing the world. We often have our greatest adventurers and our greatest sense of playful freedom on rainy days. The moment children step out of their cars and walk through our gate they are dressed ready for play, all weather play! They drop their bag and then they are off! We use tarps, cubbies, tents and shelters for different aspects of our day. We have raincoats, hats, gumboots, river shoes, all weather outfits and changes of clothes because we believe that we should not be limited by any sort of play because of the weather. We make it happen. 


Learn more about Jen and Narell HERE

Guess what!?

You can invite Jen or Narell to come to YOUR service to discover the benefits of nature play through and exciting and customised in-service Professional Development workshop!