Nature-Based Play

Playful Garden is a child-led, play-based nature program that inspires young minds and their caregivers year round. By encouraging play in all weather, we are building healthy, balanced development in our children. We believe that our environment is the third teacher, which is why we have chosen the outdoors as the ultimate classroom.  Using a hands-off approach, facilitators can ask thought-provoking questions and provide tools in a way that still lets the child lead, inquire, and discover for themselves. Einstein said that “play is the highest form of research” and here at playful garden we take our play very seriously. 

We are thrilled to say that The Vernon Family Farm has opened their fields and pastures to host our program. The Vernon’s strongly believe in building up their community, and what better way than to serve the next generation.

They are located at :

301 Piscassic Rd
Newfields, NH 03856

Programs

Mighty Hickory’s (3yrs and up)

After a story and thought-provoking questions, the children will explore, investigate, and play, as we learn with the different materials at the Playful Garden. During this time caregivers are encouraged to come together to unplug while enjoying refreshments and the views the farm has to offer.
Learn More

Free Rangers (Birth to 5 years)

A child-led open play that starts with a story, ends with a song, and has a whole lot of play and discovery in between. Being immersed in nature, we will get to experience the changing of the seasons and the different materials and weather they offer. Learn More

The Parent Piece

Playful Garden provides a supportive community for new and experienced caretakers to turn to, as well as an opportunity for our little people to grow and explore outdoors. Learn More

Our Mission

Our technology-driven world can be overly stimulating and distracting. We are constantly multi-tasking and working through one chore or activity to get to the next one. It’s easy for caregivers to feel overwhelmed and place guilt on themselves for not being able to “do it all”. Caring for children is hard work and parents need support and encouragement.

 Our children’s brains are growing rapidly. Executive functioning skills such as impulse control, maintaining focus and decision-making are at the forefront of this significant developmental period. It is our job as caregivers to guide, model and provide opportunities for children to strengthen this brain muscle just as we strengthen our own physical muscles through exercise. We must allow children to make decisions and assess risk on their own, to continue to develop self- discipline and self-control.  Playful Garden is a place where caregiver and child can continue to grow and find the tools they need to do so.

Our goal is not only to provide a space in nature for your children to play, but also create a safe place for parents and caregivers to unplug, connect with their children and other adults within the community . When time is spent outside we can be more emotionally available to the people around us . When we are connected to our children, family and friends, we are experiencing a fuller more joyful life . That is our mission at Playful Garden: To provide you that space where you can be present and engaged with yourself, your child and your surroundings.

Learning and teaching should not stand on opposite banks and just watch the river flow by; instead, they should embark together on a journey down the water. Through an active, reciprocal exchange, teaching can strengthen learning how to learn.

-Loris Malaguzzi

Values

  • We understand that each child is different and celebrate exploring and learning in a way that is unique to them.
  • We use the environment as our third teacher- letting it lead investigations and provide us with beauty and challenges.
  • We believe in the freedom and space to imagine new ideas, trust our instincts, build our brains, problem solve, assess risk, and make choices.
  • We encourage learning through hands-on experiences.
  • We support children in discovery, asking open-ended questions to help them find the end result for themselves.
  • We explore open-ended play materials to lead us to our own creations and outcomes.
  • We educate our young and old on the importance to take care of our earth.
  • We seek equal opportunity for individual and collaborative investigation.
  • We value PLAY!
There are three ways to ultimate success: The first way is to be kind. The second way is to be kind. The third way is to be kind.

-Fred Rodgers

The goal of education is not to increase the amount of knowledge but to create the possibilities for a child to invent and discover, to create men who are capable of doing new things.

-Jean Piaget

Guidelines of Play

One of our goals as parents and educators is to raise children who are kind and safe. We believe in practicing these qualities because they are intertwined in our daily life and set the expectation for interacting with each other, our space, and treasures.

When we are kind:

  •  We are able to thoughtfully listen and understand others.
  • We are respecting our space and our tools.
  •  We are caring for our friends and our families.
  • We treat others the way we would like to be treated.
  •  We use our words to explain our feelings and thoughts to others.

When we are safe:

  • We are listening to our bodies.
  • We slow ourselves down.
  • We take calculated risks.
  • We are aware of our surroundings and relation to others.
  • We make careful choices and use gentle hands
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