The World is your Canvas. Using Outdoor Play to Promote Creativity

Written by
Bienenstock Natural Playgrounds
on
August 14, 2019

Creativity is born of the freedom to express yourself. When we let our imagination steer us away from the rigidity of the classroom and into our ‘wonder-lands’, we give creativity a chance to drive the experience. It’s food for the soul no matter how many years young you are today. 

Creativity is the direct by-product of being free to make choices based on what feels right in each moment. It’s an expression of the true spirit and fortunately, in children, unadulterated spirit exists in abundance. By engaging a child’s creative mind we create dynamic learners who can think strategically and solve complex problems.

For this reason, it’s absolutely vital that as educators and parents alike, we strive to foster creativity wherever we can. When it comes to outdoor play, making use of the surrounding environment in nature is far and away the best way to promote important characteristics like curiosity, exploration, discovery, and creativity. 

If the world is our canvas, then let them paint…  And draw. And collect. And share. And build!

Creating an environment to promote creative learning in an outdoor play space is easy and fun! Consider using your outdoor space to encourage children to engage in the following activities using existing elements in nature and on the playground… 

  • Painting rocks
  • Collecting sticks, leaves, flowers to make a picture
  • Snow or mud sculptures
  • Draw in the dirt
  • Using flower pollen to draw 

A primary benefit of using unconventional manipulatives and materials to build and create is teaching children the concept of divergent thinking. It’s the ‘outside-the-box’ thinking mindset that encourages many different answers for one question. When children generate creative ideas by exploring many possible solutions, they become more imaginative and have an increased capacity for problem-solving.

Teacher’s Tip: As educators, when children engage in nature-based play, we must honour every child’s views, ideas, and theories. By reinforcing the freedom to choose, we can jumpstart creativity and creative skill sets that lead to specific learning interests and a life rich in experiences (The Kindergarten Program, 2016).


Curiosity Is A Virtue

Teaching a child to be curious about life from a young age primes them to become independent and driven lifelong learners who are forever curious. These individuals are the innovators in our society. They are the people who are inquisitive, question norms and engage in social/economic change. 


Education with a Holistic Perspective

Creating an environment that fosters creativity means that are you contributing towards holistic learning. The development of creativity encourages children to engage and learn naturally, to make connections to the world around them, and to apply their knowledge to many similarly applicable situations. 


Creativity Is Education. It’s not a supplement.

In order to have well-rounded critical thinkers in our society, we need to make a concerted effort to foster a child’s creative mind. In a socio-economic climate where class subjects like music, art class, and drama are being pushed to the fringes of education budgets, outdoor play is an effective and economical method of investing in creative thinking without adding stress to a schoolboard’s curriculum.

While considering the benefits of outdoor play, it’s important to look at the myriad of benefits beyond the more obvious physical health benefits. Natural playgrounds educate children through play and have a positive impact on every child’s ability to learn in any classroom, no matter the subject.

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