The Magic of Outdoor Play

Does a favorite song take you back to the first time and place you heard it? Does the smell of a baking cake remind you of your birthday? Does the feel of 2954 sand between your toes remind you of sun filled days at the beach?

The magic of outdoor play is that it involves all your senses! For example: there is an orange tree in the Physics Forrest here at Kidspace. When the tree is in bloom the scent of orange blossoms takes me back to summers as a child…and the feel of the waxy soft white blossoms, the buzz of the beehive in the tree in our backyard, and the taste of freshly squeezed orange juice…

The more senses that are engaged during an experience, the deeper the memory and learning of that experience can be. The more ways you have to access recall, like a sensory trigger, the more likely you are to remember what is being learned. When you are able to access recall, the easier it is to build on the learning from those experiences, a process called scaffolding. Outdoor play, with all of its sights, sounds, 2955 and tactile interaction, is a great way to implement what we know about learning and brain development and deepen the learning in the moment.

The spontaneity of open-ended and outdoor play also inspires exploration and discovery. “What happens if…” is a major component of outdoor play and teaches cause and effect. These kinds process driven experiences are less daunting than a challenge that has a “right answer”. When allowed to explore the world with outdoor play, the confidence builds and carries over into situations where there may be a definitive answer.

Take this time this summer to play outside and create your own sensory memories! ___________________________________________________________________________________

Anne Pierce, Art Specialist, has been with Kidspace Children’s Museum since 2010. She participated in the Master Planning committee and assisted in the development of the Imagination Workshop. As a theater professional Anne has worked for the Walt Disney Resorts, Universal Studios Hollywood, and Sid & Marty Krofft. Anne is currently serving on the board of the Los Angeles Guild of Puppetry.