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  • Self-guided Walks

    Staying fit and healthy is just a walk in the Park! Download our free Centennial Park walking apps - available for Apple and Android smartphones. More info and download links here.

  • Swamp Closures

    Lachlan Swamp will close on days above 36C to minimise disturbance to the Flying Foxes. There will be no access to visitors.

  • Centennial Park History Book

    Our great new book on the history of Centennial Park is now on sale, and can be ordered online. Great gift idea. More info.

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Educational Information

What is nature play?

Nature Play is intrinsically motivated, child-centered and comes from the innate desire in children to engage with their immediate environment on their own terms.

It involves children immersing themselves in an outdoor organic environment to develop physical literacy, engage imagination, to stimulate creative expression leading towards positive social, emotional, ecological and cognitive development.

In a world where the ‘helicopter parent’ so often prevails, nature play is about giving children a ‘hummingbird’ experience. Rather than hovering over play interaction and managing it, nature play encourages children to develop and learn for themselves, alongside other children, where adults are nearby to provide peace of mind but not to place their own fears or structure on the play behaviours.

Why is this space important?

This state-of-the-art, purpose-built space has been developed with a range of features and formats to allow children to engage in the act of nature play.

Not to be confused with a ‘playground’ where a structure is placed onto a space to engage children in physical movement – it is a ‘play space’ or an ‘play ecosystem’ by design. It incorporates elements from the natural environment in a way that encourages boundary-testing, self-expression, critical thinking, engagement with nature and practice of the other fundamental principles of the school of nature play. It also features a ‘gathering circle’ which will be dedicated to more led-natural learning experiences for schools, community groups and out-of-hours school care organisations.

Is there any other place space like this in NSW?

No. The Ian Potter Children’s WILD PLAY Garden is the first state-of-the-art, purpose built space for nature play in NSW and it is one of few in the country.

What educational outcomes will the Garden provide children?

This incredible new play space will assist children in developing:

Critical thinking -  the skill of actively conceptualising, applying, analyzing, synthesizing, and/or evaluating information gathered through observation, experience, reflection, reasoning, or communication before making a decision or judgement.

Spatial awareness - the ability to be aware of oneself in space; an organised knowledge of objects in relation to oneself in that given space.

Creative learning – a way of learning that encourages creative and innovative problem solving.

Positive social and emotional development – critical to early childhood development this is about the way people learn social and emotional skills, across their lives: healthy social development allows us to form positive relationships with family, friends, teachers, and others.

Developing ecological consciousness – identified as a holistic and reflexive process of consciously understanding the world, and oneself as a multi-dimensional human being within it. This is largely about understanding the role humans play within their natural environment and the impact one can have on the environment.

Physical literacy – the mastery of fundamental movement and gross and fine motor skills that permit a child to read their environment and make appropriate decisions, allowing them to move confidently and with control in a wide range of physical activity situations.

What are the main benefits of Wild Play and Nature Play?

The educational benefits of this play space will be like no other in Sydney or NSW. Each of the dedicated natural spaces including Artesian water play, creek beds, bamboo forests and outdoor classrooms, are all designed to inspire and encourage children to increase their:

  • Critical thinking
  • Spatial awareness
  • Creative learning
  • Positive social and emotional development, and Develop ecological consciousness.