I have blogged quite a lot about our allotment, recently. This month, it has really come into its own. Not just because we have actually managed to EAT some of the stuff we’ve grown, either…
Right next door to the allotment is Glazebury Community Play Area. It only opened this month, and it is amazing! It is the stuff kids’ dreams are made of! (Or mine would have been, anyways)! “When I was a lass”, I loved climbing trees. So much so, myself and one of my friends were always getting into trouble from a grumpy old woman for climbing the tree near her garden. We loved to be outdoors. Times have changed though, and environments have too. What was once considered a safe place to play is suddenly off limits…
This is where Glazebury Community Play Area has worked wonders. Imagine a safe, fenced off area, away from the road, with loads of things to climb, a secret tunnel to explore, plenty of materials to make your own dens, a large, circular area, perfect for story telling and picnics, plus space to run and play, without worrying about cars and dogs! It’s a true natural playground!
I genuinely believe that children need the opportunity to explore, climb, fall, dust themselves down and try again. I believe it helps them to gain confidence, as well as keeping them fit and healthy. My 4 year old has autism, so finding places for him to do this is difficult. He is a runner, and he has no sense of danger. Roads, dogs and open water are all big red flags for me. He makes a bee line for them. This means he spends most of his time strapped into his pushchair.
Glazebury Community Play Area has changed that! Both Sam and Syd love to explore the area. Sam usually finds a quiet spot under the trees and lies down underneath them, to watch the leaves rustle overhead. Syd loves to climb the securely positioned logs, steps and mounds. She spends ages picking flowers (buttercups) and playing hide and seek. I am really excited about spending lots of time up there over the Summer. It’s usually quiet during the day in term time – perfect for Sam who gets a little overwhelmed by crowds. I suspect that as word gets around about it, that may change though.
The Play Area is across the road from Bent’s Garden Centre – to the left of the allotments. You go through a green gate to get inside, and then you follow the path down to a second gate. You can either go through the second gate to gain access to the Play Area, or you can go through the “secret tunnel” to the left of the gate. This is definitely our entrance of choice! Inside the tunnel, there are a couple of hand carved benches. This is a great spot to sit and hide from the sun – especially if you have a good book to read as well!
In the main play area, there’s plenty of carved tree trunks to climb, mounds to explore, flowers to pick, dens to make and places to sit and watch the world go by. There are a few nettles dotted here and there, as well as the odd mushroom / toadstool. When I had to tell my 3 year old not to pick the ‘shrooms, I was transported back to the summer of ’89, and my Dad telling me the same thing, by the bank of a fish pond!
Risky play is something every child needs. Society is too keen to wrap children up in cotton wool now. Let them sit inside, keep them safe, etc etc. Kids need to let off steam, though. Especially mine! earthbasedfun.com have lots to say on natural playgrounds too, so it’s well worth checking out their post!
We spent ages trying to make a den the other day. (Emphasis on trying)! Have you ever tried to do this, with a 3 and 4 year old, “helping”? It was like a comedy game of Domino Rally! Every time I got half the branches up, Syd knocked one down, taking the rest with it.
Or… Sam decided it was time to play Giant Ker-Plunk, and pulled a branch away, thus causing the rest to fall down around him. We didn’t get much of a structure built, but we did have lots of fun. Sydney learnt the difference between “long and short” branches, and she also learnt that sandals aren’t really the best footwear for den building!
I am hoping that during the Summer holidays, some older kids can teach
me Syd some decent den making skills. My knowledge in this field is definitely lacking…!!
One thing I will say is that if (like me) you suffer from hayfever, make sure you take your antihistamine before you visit! The Pollen Count is off the charts !