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Montessori Works Maroubra Beach Babies's May Newsletter

May 2022


Hello everyone, welcome to our May newsletter! As always, we provide an overview of what is happening within our childcare community. This month we will focus on nature play and using the outdoors as a playground.

Topic of the month - Nature play beyond the playground

During the pandemic, the youngest of children have been prevented from exploring much of the outdoors. Due to lockdown restrictions, most may have only ventured out a handful of times due to health and safety concerns and it’s understandable. But as the pandemic wanes down, and vaccination becomes more widely available, May is the last month before winter sets in and keeps young children indoors again. 

So in this newsletter, we’ll tackle the importance of nature play for young children, its benefits and where young children can go to take advantage of natural playgrounds to their hearts’ content. 

What is Nature Play?

Associate Professor Janet Dyment from the School of Education at the University of Tasmania says nature play happens “when children are provided with the opportunity to engage in unstructured play activities in outdoor settings where natural elements feature, such as logs, rocks and water, as opposed to conventional manufactured play equipment.”

Nature play gives young children endless sources for entertainment and fun–whether it’s from scouring puddles or ponds for living creatures or collecting scraps to craft into a new toy or building a fort out of natural spots and crevices. 

Through nature play, young children are able to use all of their five senses in learning about their natural environment while also having fun. As they discover a whole new world in the form of the natural environment, its variety and expanse triggers their curiosity. And in this new playground, a day is too short for a young child to run out of ideas and spaces to play and investigate with.

The Benefits of Nature Play

Nature play isn’t just a source of fun for children. It gives a great boost to both their physical and mental development as well.

Better gross motor skills

In nature, kids have more freedom to run, walk, sprint, jump, climb, scale, and even tumble and toss around. Natural elements are seen as tools to help them be more active in their play. Whether it’s climbing a tree, scaling a cliff, or jumping over puddles to get to the other side, natural elements help children explore and exercise their physical abilities. 

Better respiratory health

Being out in nature surrounded with plants and trees that purify the air gives children ample opportunity to breathe in high quality air. A previous study that children who spent more time in nature also had a lower prevalence of having asthma. 

Social skills improvement

Doing unstructured play in a natural environment requires more cooperation and communication. As children imagine a world they create with their playmates, they have to define and communicate the rules of the imagined world, and cooperate to bring the semblance of that imagined world into reality. They may ask their playmates to help them carry a huge log or branch over to another side to serve as a chair. They have to learn how to assign roles and responsibilities among themselves and decide who’ll be in charge and who will help each other. 

Boost in resourcefulness and creativity

While there may be a lack or short supply of man-made toys for them to use, children are afforded with a bountiful supply of natural elements which they can transform into a tool. This helps them be more inventive in the games they play according to their natural surroundings instead of having to follow a certain set of rules and intent on focusing on certain outcomes. 

Better mental health

A Danish study in 2019 found out that having lower exposure to green surroundings in early childhood increased the risk of developing mental illnesses in adulthood. Meanwhile a 2017 Canadian study found out that being exposed to natural elements had a positive effect on children’s capacity to perform independent play and increased their prosocial behaviours.

Venues for Nature Play


From chasing the waves and marvelling at seashore creatures to building sand castles and forts, children can have a free reign at the beach. Sand is a great sensory tool that’s malleable and can be formed into anything the children imagines it to be. Small sea creatures can be explored and discovered. 


A growing movement for the creation of bushland play trails has started. In these trails, young children are encouraged to explore and discover various species of flora and fauna that can be found in and around the trail, like the Kensington Bushland Play Trail.

Bird-watching and flower-tracking helps children be more aware of the natural world around them. It can also be a teachable moment as they become more aware of other living things in their natural habitat from the birds and the bees to flowers and weeds. 

Watering holes

Whether it’s a lake, pond, creek, river, there are limitless possibilities a child and their playmates can do in bodies of water. From catching prawns, crabs or even tadpoles to snorkeling or simply observing the clear waters for creatures, children can have a lot of fun and play in these watering holes. 

Keeping it Natural: The Virtue of Unstructured Play

Nature play yields unstructured play in its finest form. As it evokes children’s curiosity and imagination, learning is inevitably achieved through parents and other caregivers’ guidance and teaching. 

One study by a New Zealand mother and researcher, Emel Okur-Berberoglu, documented her child’s foray into nature’s playground found out it helped the child in developing observational skills, cognitive development, creative thinking, and self-confidence. 

Observational learning helps children use their senses to learn about their surroundings. As they repeatedly go out in nature, they start to see the same creatures and observe their daily routines. This leads them to exploring how other living things live and discovering patterns in nature. 

Unstructured play in nature also allows young children to quickly learn how to adapt and problem-solve. Whether it’s about gathering materials for a structure they’re building or learning which stones are the best for skipping or creating larger ripples, children learn how to adapt and problem-solve using what’s in their surroundings. 

The Takeaway

While a lot of games have been created to aid in the development of young children, unstructured nature play is also a way for children to learn and develop–while also getting more in touch with their natural environment. 

As young children, who were previously locked away indoors, and using digital devices either as a tool or crutch to offset shorter time spent outdoors, may suffer from some developmental delay due to pandemic-related events, parents, early childhood educators, teachers, and other primary caregivers should take advantage of the time to get these young ones more acquainted with the wonders of the natural world. Just before winter sets in, we hope the young ones have ample time to explore and discover what play awaits them in the natural playground nature has prepared for them. 

As the pandemic wanes and waxes, nature play gives young children the freedom to explore without worrying parents and caregivers about crowds of people who may infect their child with the virus. The open area also hosts a clean and healthy airflow that protects young children from breathing virus-laden air.

Childcare Development

0-12 month development

How the pandemic is affecting babies’ brains

Author: Caralee Adams

As the pandemic continues despite widespread vaccination efforts of the general population, parents remain concerned about their babies and children’s development. While Canadian researchers have found a link between pregnant women’s high levels of distress and developmental delays, experts advise parents and caregivers to interact more with babies and young children to keep them on track on the developmental milestones and help offset any developmental delays.

Read more about the research and what you can do to offset these slight developmental delays here.

1-2 year development

How you can talk to your toddler to safeguard their well-being when they grow into a teenager

Author: Elaine Reese

Do you want to know the secret to ensuring your child grows up to have a healthy well-being? Start talking to your toddlers about recent past events in “rich and validating conversations.” At least that’s what a longitudinal study by researchers at the University of Otago found out by studying parents with 1.5 year-olds and following up with them when their children were adolescents.

Know more about the study’s results and glean insights from it on how to secure your child’s future well-being here

2-3 year development

Everything you need to know about stuttering in children

Author: Julia Bye

Speech development is a key developmental milestone for any child. And sometimes, toddlers may stutter when they begin to learn how to talk as they try and grasp for the right word or pronounce complicated words. According to the author who is also a speech pathologist, the likelihood of your child developing a stutter is higher if someone in the family has a history of stuttering. What’s important is that you take note of when the stuttering first occurs and subsequent events where your child stutters.

Read this article to find out more about stuttering, whether you should be concerned about your child’s stutters, and when you should consult a doctor. 

3-4 year development

Reddit Thread Shows How Timers Have Helped Parents Give Willful Toddlers Necessary Boundaries

Author: Melissa Willets

Toddlers and transitions are a perfect time for tantrums, especially when your toddler isn’t ready to move on just yet to the next thing. But mothers have found a successful way to move toddlers from one task to another smoothly–through the use of timers.

Read the article to know more about how timers have proven to be an effective tool in getting toddlers moving along throughout the day.

4-5 year development

Money Patterns Are Set by Age 7—Here's What You Should and Should Not Be Teaching Your Kids

Author: Mia Taylor

If you want your children to prosper financially, you have to become their very own model for having the right mindset when it comes to money matters. While very young children may still not fully understand the issues, they quickly learn to associate the emotions you show to money-related topics. Whether you operate on a delayed gratification model or display a scarcity mindset, young children will inherit your money mindset early on. 

Learn more about how you can successfully impart money patterns to your children here.

Craft Corner

Love-Filled Flowers

Make flowers out of heart-shaped cutouts and let the children produce a heartfelt, everlasting bouquet of flowers they can present to their mothers and other mother-like caregivers this Mother’s Day! This craft will hone the little ones’ fine motor skills as they cut and glue the hearts to form a flower. 

Get the directions for this heartfelt bouquet here.

Coloured Shadows

Time for a little sensory play for children with this coloured shadows activity. With a simple setup consisting of colored lightbulbs and a white surface to reflect coloured shadows on, capture their attention with coloured shadows. You can also combine this with a shadow puppet play that’ll give another dimension to the usual black-and-white show. An adult must secure the lightbulb installation and ensure it’s far away from young children’s reach.

See how you can create this coloured shadows experiment here.


Musical Jars Science Experiment

Improve young children’s auditory skills with this fun and colourful musical jars experiment. This craft activity only requires a minimal setup using jars, coloured water and a spoon. Let kids discover soundwaves, pitch, and maybe even write a new tune or two. 

Get started on a musical journey full of sound patterns here.

Crystal Names – Kids’ Science Experiment

In this chemistry experiment, children will get a firsthand look at how crystals are formed. Caution though, as the borax that will be used to form the crystals need to be dissolved in hot water so an adult is needed to do this step. 

Find out how crystal names can be formed here.

Physics Fun With Balancing Paper Apple

Balancing an apple on a finger is definitely a challenge any toddler will be up for. In this craft, young children will be able to exercise their fine motor skills along with balancing. Instead of a real apple, you will only need apple printouts on different types of paper. Ask the children to cut the printouts and colour their apples, and it’s balancing time from there.

Read the instructions for this apple balancing activity here.

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