I had the great pleasure of going into the forest with a group of children last week. The educator led us all to a spot with dirt hills, big, dusty steep hills. The children whooped up and down as the dirt billowed around them. The climbed hand over hand on the steep parts, and the slid down on their bottoms.
We came back to the centre dirty, sweaty and with a few blackberry thorn scratches. It was marvellous.
All this leads me to think of a statistic I recently came across: outdoor play structures, you know the kind with bars and railings and a slide, are vacant 87% of the time when children play. Of the 13% of the time children played there they:
•used loose parts together with the structure 5% of the time
•played underneath it 4% of the time
•used it as intended 3% of the time
•used it for prospect 1% of the time
And here’s another finding: aggression between children increases when no manipulable material was provided in their outdoor play space.
I am not surprised by these findings, are you? I think hearing the stats just confirms what we already knew. Kids want to mess around with the stuff on the ground. They want to dig, sift, sort, mix, move, pat, splat and plop.
Not all of us have access to a forest, but we can all get dirt! Dusty, messy, malleable, ever-changing dirt. And it’s dirt cheap. Where I live a cubic yard of dirt costs about $28……a bargain. What else could you buy for $28 that would deliver that much play value? If it’s delivered by a dump truck, even better.
A yard of dirt in a corner of your yard….what do you think?
Lots of great big dirty blog inspiration is out there…..
Mud Play at Let the Children Play
And the Grand Finale…..