Interactive Ways to Level Up Place-Based Learning
When my family and I went to the San Antonio Zoo, they had engaging nature and animal exploration programs. And as we all know, animals attract the curiosity of young children. Indeed, the zoo’s primary objective is to foster empathy towards animals. However, our visit to The San Antonio Zoo provided a different experience.
The San Antonio Zoo's Tiny Tot Nature Spot ensured that children would enjoy while engaging in interactive play areas. The zoo’s play area includes climbing areas, metal swing sets, obstacle courses for kids, and more. But, I realized that these outdoor play spaces could also be developed right in your backyard!
The suggestions below may level up place-based learning for your kids, whether you're in a zoo or your backyard!
Engage in Nature Play
Nature inspires children to explore, develop, and test their ideas. When adults do not structure their activities, children are free to do things the way they want. Play promotes imaginative thinking and exploration of the natural environment. It gives children a feeling of curiosity and encourages them to make up games out of everything they encounter.
The Tiny Tot Nature Spot provided my kids with a lot of activities. And I allowed them to enjoy what the zoo has to offer. However, you can still adapt nature play in your backyard by installing an inflatable bounce house for kids or wooden swing sets. It will allow your child to get closer and explore nature.
My family and I’s visit to the zoo allowed me to get to know my children better. I noticed how they carefully watch and observe the happenings in their surroundings. And, more significantly, I learned how to empower them by allowing them to pick their own play choices.
So, if you happen to buy your kids toys, make sure that you allow them to decide which they want. Making them choose would signify independence and a child-centered play. And, frankly, I'd rather buy a extra large inflatable bounce house or a bouncy castle house for my child than a cellphone.
One of the reasons I take my children to the zoo is to teach them how to empathize. When utilizing animals to relate to nature, it is believed that children are naturally empathetic. They express themselves through animal role-play, which is a part of developing empathy for the natural environment. However, you can still encourage empathy without needing to visit the zoo.
You can teach empathy through backyard plays. I, for one, play doctor or nurse in a bounce house and urge my children to do the same. It has been proven that pretending to be someone else while playing increases empathy. You can also use a DIY obstacle course in the backyard for children to level up the pretend game.
My children learned to sympathize and, more importantly, connect with other beings during our family trip to the San Antonio Zoo. In addition, it allowed them to engage in various types of learning that would benefit their growth as children. Place-based learning with fun backyard toys also has a significant impact on our children's attitudes and behaviors. And I believe that as mothers, we should use it to ensure that our children develop positive traits.