Here at Moose Hill we are excited about a new feature on our property for people to explore. It is called Cookie’s Garden: Moose Hill’s Nature Play Space. The play area is located just outside our main building right next to our bird feeder area in our front yard.
While many parks and playgrounds have a traditional wood, plastic and metal play structure, our nature play space combines the surrounding landscape and vegetation with intentionally designed stations that allow children to explore, create, and design their nature play experience.
Research indicates that when children play and learn in nature, they do so with more enthusiasm, connection, imagination and cooperation than in an artificial or traditional playscape type of environment. And in many cases symptoms of attention deficit and depression are reduced while creativity and imaginative play increases.
Naturalist, researchers and educators like David Sobel, Richard Louv, Jon Young, and Dr. Scott Sampson agree that children need access to nature the same way they need good nutrition and adequate sleep. Cookie’s Garden will help children develop an attitude of curiosity and provide the opportunity to connect directly with the natural world.
While Cookie’s Garden is a constructed landscape, the features within the area are designed to mimic areas and features in the natural world. Logs and stumps to balance on, tunnels to crawl through, hills to stand on, mud to play with, and opportunities to create using items found in the natural world. There are also spaces designed to help children appreciate nature in other ways, like the giant paint easel and the musical area. Allowing children the opportunity to explore and wander without time constraints or set plans can allow children to explore their curiosity and learn at their pace.
While Cookie’s Garden is not fully complete, we encourage people to come out to Moose Hill and let your kids explore the area. Of course adults are welcome to explore too. We will be adding the remaining features over the next several months. In the spirit with which we have created the play area, I want to leave you with a quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson: “Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience”.
If you have any questions about our camp, schools, or adult education programs, please contact me, Shawn, at [email protected] .
We look forward to seeing you at the sanctuary and exploring Cookie’s Garden.