As the evenings begin to get shorter and we feel a slight chill in the air, Imaginosity will soon close its Roof Garden for the Winter months, as our loyal friend and mascot Eco Badger heads off to warner climes, leaving his Rooftop Den behind for the chilly season. There is still a short remaining week or two left to explore our garden in the city. Autumn is the most perfect time to get out and about with the family, breathe in the Autumn air and kick up a big bunch of brown and yellow leaves in your wellies. Blog-Osity Guest Blogger Joanna Fortune, writes about the benefits of the Imaginosity Roof Garden and exploring nature in general with the family.

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Modern family living has changed a lot in recent generations and as a result children and families have less and less opportunity to engage with nature and the natural environment. This is a great pity as research has demonstrated that parents who talk to their children regularly, explaining features about nature and social issues, or who read or tell stories at bedtime are more likely to foster pretend play (Shmukler 1981; Singer & Singer 2005), which is essential to children's development. Further researches into the benefits of children engaging with nature consistently show us that children's social, psychological, academic and physical health is all positively impacted when they have regular contact with nature. Try incorporating a weekly nature walk into your quality time with your children, if weather is not so good just wrap up warm and get outside even just to jump in puddles or go rainbow hunting!

Encourage them to collect conkers, acorns and leaves to do some leaf tracing at home (place a sheet of paper over a leaf and rub over it with the side of a crayon or chalk), to thread and play with conkers and tell them how you did this as a child and how much fun you had. Take a tiny acorn and show them how it grows into a huge oak tree, explaining how our trees become the paper we use to trace our leaves on and the copy books that we do our homework in. Collecting some nice stones from the beach and bringing them home to wash, dry and paint is a lovely activity for children too, as is having them plant a seed and take responsibility for watering and nurturing it every day so that it grows. Involve them when you are tending to your garden, give them a little corner they can dig in themselves.



As always, children learn best from actually engaging with nature. This is why Imaginosity's Roof Garden (located on Level 3) is one of my favourite exhibits as children can get outside and play at finding a fairy, spinning the flower cups, walking along the caterpillar and generally exploring the roof garden. They can discover what a badger's snore sounds like, learn all about wind turbines and the warmth of a solar panel. Imaginosity is a 'green building' and this gives a great opportunity for children to learn about all that this entails. They get the opportunity to imagine as they sit in the Badger's Den and or look at the Fairy Village. You can observe what they like best about the roof garden and think of ways you can continue the experience for them at home by having your own Fairy Village in your garden for example.
Our culture is increasingly taking nature away from children and exposing them to more and more screen time and virtual learning rather than hands on experiential learning. Outdoor nature play is a great way to combat this. In addition, children need exposure to exploring, risk-taking, fine and gross motor development and the absorption of vast amounts of basic knowledge as part of their overall healthy development and this can be most effectively learned through outdoor nature play. Start your journey in Imaginosity's Roof Garden and see how you can build on this type of play for your children at home.