More than just a pretty face: The value of trees

At Flinders University Childcare Centre we are very lucky to have so many trees, some of which may predate the existence of the centre. Not everyone I know gets to work with rosellas, lorikeets, kookaburras, magpies, koalas, cockatoos and butterflies to name some of the “friends” who make as much (or more) use of the trees as we do. But apart from bringing in colourful and interesting additions to our program trees also do so much more work than that to define and frame our outdoor environment. Outdoor environments are about affordances- about what potential for play and movement is allowed or even suggested by the space, layout and materials available to the children. Much research has shown that children and adults sometimes view affordances differently. One example is considering the baby’s world-view where a bump or unevenness in a path that an adult would not even really notice becomes an interesting challenge to explore. Natural environments are full of these sort of affordances, that no one has had to plan- slight inclines up or downward, lines that are not quite straight, leaves that change colour or die away depending on the time of year, stones that grow exciting mosses or lichens. Trees bring in many affordances for play. The placement of a tree may be a boundary “you can run up to the tree”, “the truck goes around the tree”, “the goals are between the tree and the fence”. They tree might dictate movement by providing an interruption forRead more