“Every child should have mud pies, grasshoppers, water bugs, tadpoles, frogs, mud turtles, trees to climb. Brooks to wade, water lilies, woodchucks, bats, bees, butterflies, various animals to pet, hayfields, pine-cones, rocks to roll, sand, snakes, huckleberries and hornets. And any child who has been deprived of these has been deprived of the best part of education.”
Luther Burbank (American horticulturalist and botanist, 1849-1926)
Incorporating Wooden Materials Into Play
Young children learn through all of their senses, and when they are given the opportunity to handle an object, they learn about weight, size, colour, texture, smell and often taste! The use of natural materials, such as wood, in indoor and outdoor play environments, encourages children to be resourceful, observe nature closely in order to understand it, respect all of nature's elements, learn about their local environment and strengthen their sense of place, and just gives them the opportunity to use all of their senses to explore something that is real.
How Can Wooden Materials Be Incorporated Into Play?
Well for one, a natural resource such as wood is easily accessible, it can be collected from backyards, beaches, forests, and just about anywhere where there is wildlife, at little to no cost. Children, like us, love to stumble across and explore beatiful things. Why give the children cheap plastic or child versions of a materials, when they much prefer to explore the real thing?
Also, using everyday materials that are simply made from wood, such as bowls, hammers, rolling pins, utensils, wooden furniture and wooden toys add an extra organic appeal that you just won't get from synthetic and plastic items. Use sticks and rocks with playdough instead of cookie cutters, create sensory bottles with twigs, pine branches, and pinecones, add simple wooden blocks to your block collection, and log slices for stacking. These are the kinds of items made from wood that add a deeper experience to your child's learning.