Are you concerned that your children have too much exposure to technology and not enough interaction with the natural environment? Many people are, and lots of studies show that nature play has many benefits, from an increased level of physical activity and subsequent reduced levels of childhood obesity, to increased motor skills, better distance vision, improved balance and increased encounters in problem solving and creative thinking. Simply put, not only does outdoor action improve emotional wellbeing for kids, but it also literally makes them smarter and fitter, and the opposite, known as nature deficit disorder, is a problem for our young people without access to the gardens and wild places. Plants should be taken daily not only in the lunch box and dinner plate, but also in their environment.
At Eden Gardens we have always encouraged children to come and play in our spaces. We have a play area in a wonderful garden that even houses a giant beehive. We also have a great kids sculpture trail as part of Eden Unearthed: art in the gardens, with challenging questions around many works that promote thought and questioning.
- Involve your children in selecting and planting your garden so they are invested in the outcomes. Choose plants that grow easily and have something to offer, like fruits or fragrant flowers.
- Plants with textures, smells, sounds, colour and a variety of shapes will make and interesting space for your whole family.
- Avoid plants that are poisonous, prickly or have thorns.
- Create spaces that are both active for example cycle path ways and hard surfaces for wheels and bouncing balls, as well as quiet spots to sit.
- Add a cubby or fort and place it right into the garden to encourage play
- Add a fire pit for big kids and sand pit for younger kids – it can be the same space and just adapt as the kids grow
Coming up in the school holidays are several workshops centred around this them of using the garden creatively. They include:
* a shadow puppet workshop and stop animation workshop, which takes the sculpture by Pamela Lee Brenner and Johannes Muljana called Bayangan, unpacks it and shows children how to make their own puppets and create movies on their phones using photos of single images. It’s a great merger of nature and tech.
* Kids collage workshop is a hands-on workshop with artist Rmsina Daniel. Children 7 years and over can come along and get stuck in finding bits and pieces from the garden to create a sculpture inspired artwork. They will explore not only the garden, but also texture and composition.
* Twine Time is for kids over 7 and is all about using string to create art, reminiscent of those wonderful geometric works you might have made as a kid winding coloured cotton around nails. It will also involve Eden Unearthed artist Danielle Minett as she unpacks her collaborative work Being Keepers, and kids will get to work their own magic in the garden threading crocheted yarn around a grove of bamboo, jumping over a water rill and winding it through the trees to add to this contemplative work.
Finally, we wrap up Eden Unearthed with a great day of adventure for the family in our Family Art Day. Join artist Christina Frank and create small clay birds in a workshop that teaches about birds and their habitat. We also have Alison Thompson in running some wonderful great workshops, including Leaf Critters at 10am and Nature Creations for kids at noon. There will also be a Pot and Plant workshop for kids at 10:30am.
We also have a huge range of kids gardening kits and projects to encourage them outside at your place – we want kids to have more ‘green time’ and less ‘screen time’.
By: Meredith Kirton MAIH RH