Creativity, Imagination and Inventiveness in Outdoor Learning
Updated: Dec 1, 2021
" I played around our yard some and talked to the fence posts, sung songs and made the weeds sing..." - Woody Guthrie
I have learned so much from children during our outdoor adventures. They have taught me that a wooden stick can be a magic wand or a laser sword; a tree can be a dragon, a castle, or a big ship. It needs just some sand, moss, and leaves to prepare a chocolate ice-cream. Children have taught me that if we look close enough, nature could be a magical place with amazing stories to be imagined and played.
A natural environment strongly influences the creativity and imagination of children.
According to the British Council, creative playing is "increasingly recognized as an interactive process that facilitates experimentation and improvisation, risk-taking, reimagining and reusing, and exploring possibilities in a playful manner, where freedom to participate lies with the player(s)." On the other hand, imaginative play is when children use their imaginations and play without rules or structure. This is also called pretend play or dramatic play. (British Council)
Natural outdoors invite creative play through children’s imagination. According to Robin Moore, an expert in the design of play and learning environments, "nature spaces and materials stimulate children's limitless imaginations and serve as the medium of inventiveness and creativity observable in almost any group of children playing in a natural setting. "Imaginative and creative play is how children learn about the world around them by manipulating materials and textures, expressing themselves verbally and non-verbally, planning, acting, and creating. In contrast to toys, nature offers children countless items that can be anything they want them to be. Manufactured toys are designed to perform predictable scenarios and games that the inventor has already set.
Furthermore, creative and imaginative play builds social-emotional development by allowing children to consider different resolutions, it involves self-expression and promotes the development of physical, social, and cognitive skills.
I have witnessed how kids' imagination and creativeness are limitless when playing outside. They build a strong connection between themselves and the items they are playing with. A log, a shell, or a rock can be very precious treasures they want to show their parents or bring home with them. It is funny how sometimes parents remind their children that they have already so much "nature" in their rooms. It warms my heart how creative playing can help children to learn from nature and connect with their surroundings.
“If we encourage children to hone their imagination and inventiveness, they are less apt to need the transient novelty of a new toy to generate capacity for creative play. We are helping them develop skills and values that lend themselves to better stewardship of the earth and its natural resources” (Linn, 2008, p. 200)
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