Nature play & sustainability—outdoors walks at SDN Ngallia, Lidcombe

Access to natural outdoor spaces stimulate the senses and spark curiosity about the natural world.  

SDN Ngallia, Lidcombe is located on the Cumberland Campus of the University of Sydney. Surrounded by large trees, grass fields, and the serenity of the University's open space, the children regularly enjoy walks in the fresh air and appreciate the beauty of nature.  

Preschoolers gather at the playground gate, led by Early Childhood Teacher Sorphon and other educators. They’re so enthusiastic about heading outside. Holding hands with a friend, they know they need to walk with the group, so set a fast pace to get to their destination quickly. A pull-along trolley comes too, filled with everyone’s water bottles, and other essentials just in case.

The children have been working on a stick structure, and this is where Sorphon has everyone gather to start. They talk about the tee-pee-shaped pile and begin picking up fallen sticks in the small forested area. It takes strength, coordination and teamwork to arrange them according to preference. Finding the biggest sticks is the most exciting, and soon children are eagerly showing and comparing with their friends. Which is the tallest? Which is the heaviest?  

The children are familiar with the space they’ve walked to today, but there’s always something new to do. They begin to settle into their own pursuits, noticing the dirt, leaves, foliage, the textures of tree trunks. Educators help children to see tiny details in the items they’ve found. This sparks the children’s imagination, and the most treasured items make their way into baskets to carry back to the classroom.

Someone finds a tree root snaking its way across the ground – a dinosaur bone! Two children find a small patch of dirt, as soft as flour – surely treasure has been buried here!  

In an open field, an educator calls out, “ready, set, go!” and a whole group of children race and laugh all the way to the end and back.

Today’s nature walk finishes with a drink of water and a gathering under the trees. Children throw leaves, lying back on the leaf litter and feeling it crunch under the weight of their bodies. Preschoolers at SDN Ngallia are so fortunate to have this wide-open space on their doorstep. There were no foxes or rabbits today – maybe tomorrow!

When children play outdoors, they can test their limits, learn from mistakes, demonstrate their capacity and feel brave and powerful. The preschoolers at SDN Ngallia have regular chances to develop their understanding of nature and the interactions between living things, and to follow their curiosity and natural rhythm. Through nature play, children’s senses are stimulated, and space and time allows them to apply learning from the classroom into the big, wide world.  

To learn more about our preschool program and curriculum pillars, visit this page here.

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