For the past two years Stettler Regional Early Child Development (ECD) Committee has hosted a week of outdoor play activities for families with young children.
The objective is to encourage free play in outdoor, natural environments to support healthy child development. They believe that children learn through play and play outdoors: they experience decreased stress, improved core skills (observation, critical thinking, problem solving, and reasoning), increased creativity & imagination, and increased levels of physical activity (movement). Free play in nature supports healthy child development in cognitive, social and emotional domains. Children who have contact with nature develop a lifelong relationship with nature that also supports stewardship.
The Stettler Regional ECD Committee is comprised a members from various local organizations allowing this committee to tap into numerous local resources, experience and wisdom.
The Get Outside & Play week has featured outdoor obstacle courses, a nature walk, ‘Have a Ball’ at the park (featuring ball activities and physical literacy), blanket play, building bug hotels, and loose parts play. Each year, at the end of Get Outside & Play week, the ECD committee hosts the Stettler Amazing MINI Race, where children and their families race through age appropriate nature stations. Examples include: building structures with loose parts found outside, pinecone toss into targets on the water, nature painting using a paintbrush built from sticks/leaves/grass, squishing through sensory bins barefoot, a touch & feel station, and a sniff & smell station.
Many families commented that they had learned new ideas for outdoor activities to do with their children, and that they were going to try the activities again on their own in the future. Families also shared that the Get Outside & Play Week encouraged them to explore nature areas and parks in Stettler they didn’t previously know existed, and that they met new people at the events.
Learn more about Stettler Community Network here.