The Basics of Adventure Play
For years, the major focus of play was to be physically active. Although active play is certainly necessary in healthy child development, it is not the only type of play kids need! Adventure play has recently re-emerged as a key type of play that kids require in order to develop essential skills and more cognitive, mental and social ability.
The main components of adventure play are risk, nature, and loose parts, all in an unstructured play environment. The intersection of these categories lets children learn risk management as they explore boundaries and engage in physical activity.
- Risky play is described as a thrilling activity that involves the risk of physical injury, as well as play that provides opportunity for challenge and testing limits. In adventure play, risky behaviour, such as exploring heights, heavy tools and equipment, high speeds and rough play should be highlighted in an environment that can be monitored and controlled.
- Nature play is any activity that gets children active outside, with the end goal of building skills and abilities to play in the great outdoors without the need for constant supervision. It also allows children to better connect with nature and understand its importance!
- Loose parts play describes the use of materials that can be manipulated in a variety of ways with no set goal. They can be natural or synthetic, and their use promotes invention, engineering and skill development at any age!
- The final and arguably most important component of adventure play is its unstructured form! This is when children are able to lead their adventure in play without constant adult-led games and supervision, which promotes leadership and collaboration!
The integration of so many important components in adventure play allows it to reach much further than simply physical risk. As the first type of play designed to be equally mentally stimulating as it is physically, adventure play allows for children to explore many unique areas all at once, such as engineering, problem solving skills, physical strength and creativity. Adventure play assists in developing children that are well-rounded, resourceful and calculated risk takers. It assists in developing children that are better prepared for life!
Nature play is any activity that gets children active outside, with the end goal of building skills and abilities to play in the great outdoors without the need for constant supervision. It also allows children to better connect with nature and understand its importance!
Adventure PLAY Project Assistant
Summer Student with the Medicine Hat College Be Fit for Life Centre