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Let's Play Outside: The Importance of Pretend Play in Natural Settings

by Marisa Lark Wallin
September/October 2018
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Article Link: https://www.childcareexchange.com/article/lets-play-outside-the-importance-of-pretend-play-in-natural-settings/5024392/

 “Come sit with me and wait for the squirrels! Let’s make a song to call to them.”

“First we
need to get more acorns. They won’t want to come to our house if we don’t have dinner ready for them.”

“You’re
right. Let’s
fill the whole bag up, then we can cook and wait for them at the tree in our house.”

“I have a
long stick and I am the Grandpa. You have to find a tree that’s nice and cozy so we can put down the blanket and fall to sleep for bedtime—but first it’s
bath time!”

“Pick this up and put the acorn in here and watch it go down. We are building a robot to feed the squirrels!”

These are the sounds of children at work and at play. Collaboration, creativity, imagination, inventiveness, problem-solving, coordination, physical strength—when children are given the space and time to freely play outdoors, truly the whole child is able to grow.

Even outside of the school setting, open, natural outdoor space is a treasured and limited commodity, especially in urban areas. Of course, there is a range of environments that can be referred to as “natural,” from untamed forests and grasslands to ...

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