One of the techniques of the Waldorf School is to provide open-ended objects to children and to allow the child to freely project meaning onto the object. Toys with concrete meaning already ascribed to them are less favorable because they require less of the child’s diverse imagination.
This last weekend I went to the Wood Lake Nature Center in Richfield, Minnesota. http://www.woodlakenaturecenter.org/ It is a large green area smack dab in the middle of the city. It’s a Waldorf parent’s dream.
I’d never been to before and I was amazed! It was a dream come true for those who believe that the child’s imagination should come from materials that don’t already have assigned meaning to them. The children use their own creativity and ideas to decide what they want to do with their surrounding and their environment. They are free to let their imagination run wild.
This nature area has a beautiful indoor center where children can see snakes and turtles and salamanders in fish tanks. The center also has plenty of windows for viewing birds eating at the feeders.
But what follows blew my mind! It was the outdoor playspace.
A “back to nature for children” dream come true!
No slides, no structures. Just one big fenced in area with two really big trees. No man-made objects. Just sticks, small logs, trees, rocks, stones, slices of trunks of trees.
The kids were in HEAVEN!
Scaling high peaks.
Or staying close to the ground on rocks just her size.
The bridge was also a lot of fun.
And when we tired of that, we went for a walk on the paths listening for crickets, frogs and birds.
Into the woods,
where the ferns were exploding and so were the smiles!
Around the marshlands and lakes we went.
It was like a fairy tale. Just gorgeous!
(Our younger companion enjoyed nature from her stroller.)
But later fell asleep!
If you live in Minnesota, check out the Wood Lakes Nature Center. It’s a treat!