What do you get when you take an empty field, add piles of twigs, branches, moss, cardboard boxes, stumps, seed pods, pine cones, raffia, magnolia leaves and fabric, and then add hundreds of children and their adults? A Loose Parts Party!
Intrepid Children’s Garden volunteers, Barb and Buz Sawyer, their grandson, Andrew Cobus, and I spent the afternoon fielding the most popular question of the day, “What do we DO here?” The answer: “Use your imagination and create!” And boy, did they create! Rafts, hats, tepees, fairy houses, wands, castles (one with a working draw bridge!), animal habitats, and more.
It might look like the kids are ‘just having fun’, but this open-ended nature play develops important skills we all need to be successful adults. Creativity, collaboration, critical thinking, problem solving, adaptability, communication, leadership — who knew these skills could be nurtured through a pile of sticks, rocks, and moss? The staff and volunteers in the Children’s Garden, of course! And don’t worry if you missed the event, you still have the chance to experience the magic of loose parts. Come visit the newest addition to the Children’s Garden, NaturePlay, and build a few important life skills while creating a fantastical masterpiece yourself!