What IS a natural playground?

So, Halifax, you’ve got yourself a shiny new natural playground at the Dingle in Sir Sandford Fleming Park. But what is a natural playground? How does it help families appreciate nature more? Should we encourage kids to play on it? Is it even safe for kids to play on it?

This is the first natural playground on the peninsula. There are also ones in Musquodoboit Valley, Bridgetown, Morden and Bible Hill (and perhaps more in the province that I haven’t come across yet). Natural play areas allow kids to interact with elements they would find in the woods, such as logs, dirt and water, and they encourage use of gross motor skills, as well imaginative and cognitive development because children need to think differently about how they can play on it.

Traditional playgrounds have equipment with an obvious use. Swing on the swings, slide on the slide, climb on the ladder, with parents nearby to quickly correct them if they go up the slide, or hang upside down from the ladder.

A natural playground leaves more open to interpretation, which allows children to make up their own uses...