The Gaffield Children’s Garden at Matthaei Botanical Gardens is hosting weekly hands-on Nature Play Pop-ups for fall 2023.  Nature Play Pop-ups will occur on select Wednesday evenings, 4:45 pm – 5:45 pm.

Dates: October 11th, October 18th, October 25th, November 8th, November 22nd, November 29th
4:45 pm – 5:45 pm

This lightly guided play takes place in the nature art area of the Gaffield Children’s Garden. Young children will have hands-on fun while taking a closer look at nature, and parents will leave with easy ideas to encourage creative nature play at home. No registration, free event. First to arrive, first to play. Kids can join in as spaces open during the pop-ups. Suggested ages 3-7.  Please note, all materials stay at Gaffield Children’s Garden unless otherwise specified.

photo of children creating potions from a variety of nature ingredients

The Importance of Play

Play is a means of deep learning for young children. In Gaffield Children’s Garden, we provide rich, open-ended Nature Play experiences. We are committed to it, knowing that these experiences will become an essential part of the child, will be transformed into intellectual pursuits, imaginative pursuits, support physical and emotional health, and promote positive regard for the Earth now and into adulthood. We encourage families to participate and replicate what we do here, in their own houses, apartments, schools and parks. Nature play incorporates the local natural environment while offering children tools other than the standard metal and plastic structures found in most playgrounds. 

Playing is a key contributor to early childhood learning, and playing outdoors helps children develop a bond, love, and respect for nature. Through engaged learning and play in nature, children acquire concepts and skills essential to both personal and academic success.

Nature Play Pop-Ups (NPPUs)  are MBGNA’s lightly guided Nature Play opportunities that are easy to replicate at home. Our emphasis on easy-to-replicate play is by design: we know how valuable outdoor play is for young children and hope to encourage parents and caregivers to try these simple and inexpensive, but enriching experiences at home, too.