There were kids covered in mud from head to toe after they took part in Napperby Primary School’s Nature Warrior Day on Sunday.
The event was a mix of nature play and a Ninja Warrior inspired obstacle course that was designed to let children and their families to connect with nature and give people from Napperby and surrounding areas an opportunity to participate in a diverse outdoor experience.
“We saw lots of children and young people playing and having fun – lots of fun – in the mud, the trees and amongst all the obstacles,” principal David Manuel said.
“We saw parents and grandparents joining in with their children helping them to explore the different ways to play with nature.
“There was lots of laughter, smiles, whooping and hollering and excited kids who couldn’t wait to get as muddy as they could!
“We saw kids being creative, being challenged and being resilient.”
The principal, fundraising committee, parents and teachers, including reception and year one teacher Kate Jacobs, put in many volunteer hours to make the day possible.
“It’s so important for them to play like this for so many reasons,” Mrs Jacobs said.
“Sensory, fine motor and gross motor skills are not being developed because of the way children play in the modern world.”
She said you could write a book on the things they are learning from experiences like Nature Warrior day and referred to a quote that she said summed it up perfectly. “Question like a scientist, design like a technologist, build like an engineer, create like an artist, deduce like a mathematician, and, most importantly, play like a kid.”
“This is something I’m very passionate about and I feel like what we have created is just the start of something very special,” Mrs Jacobs said.
One activity on the day was “loose parts play”, a term created to describe the activity where they use whatever they can find to build and create. There were large crates, poster cylinders, cable reels, rope, sticks, milk crates and a huge truck tarp left in the corner of the park for the children to use, it was constructed and deconstructed many times throughout the day.
“They’re learning so many things from this; how to plan, communicate ideas to fellow builders, leadership, how to make mistakes and learn from them, then replan and negotiate,” Mrs Jacobs said.
Principal David Manuel said that when children are involved in nature play they participate in more creative forms of play.
“They tend to play more cooperatively and develop problem solving skills together.
“Outdoor nature play also helps children to grasp a better understanding of risk and risk assessment as well.”
The event was also a fundraiser for the school and almost all materials for the course were recycled. Tyres were used to make a climbing obstacle, old pallets were made into jumping and climbing boards, a tunnel was made from old drums, obsolete fishing ropes were tied through the trees to make a range of challenges, an old tug boat rope was hung from a tree that was used for swinging and vertical climbing and the very popular mud pit was full of old cooking equipment from op shops and parents cupboards.
“It made me so happy to see the kids getting filthy in the mud pit, testing themselves on the course and socialising,” Fundraising committee member Angela Smallacombe said.
“Their smiles through muddy faces made all the work worth it.”
Mr Manuel declared the event and outstanding success, not only for the primary school but for the Napperby community.
“It is vital that as a small school we find ways to work together with our local community, something I believe we do well here,” he said
“We have a very supportive community and the school is supported by a robust governing council who contribute tirelessly to supporting the school.”