People and plants: Nature play

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Recently, I was listening to a spiritual teacher talk about how adults have forgotten to play. Do you remember when you were a kid and would role play as an adult? I sure do. We would put on serious-looking clothes and don a stern and sober expression. Being an adult was serious business, right?

After pondering the presentation by this guru, I actually couldn’t remember the last time I played. So, I thought this week we would investigate ways to enjoy nature, bring out our inner child and remember how to have fun.

I wrote an article a few years ago about doing a nature scavenger hunt. For me, being grounded in the present moment is the first step in being playful. With a mindfulness-based scavenger hunt, focus only on that which you seek while being open to anything that may arise in your awareness. If your mind wanders to the laundry list of items your brain tells you are important, then gently bring it back to the present moment.

Go into your backyard, local park or take a hike – we have many lovely trails. Look for the following: something in nature that makes you happy, one thing you love to smell and another item you enjoy looking at. See if you can find your favorite color or an item that is somehow useful to you.

Or, you can also check out this article on BuzzFeed before you venture outdoors. It lists 32 nature-related items you can make. Find one or two projects from the list, then see if you can find them outside and not at the local craft store.

Here is another site with many fun activities, such as a leaf mosaic dream catcher, nature bookmarks, bark painting and even leaf critters.

If the above sites do not get your creative juices flowing, then check out this one:

Take along a small container or bag to collect leaves, berries, seeds, pine cones and small branches and twigs for your project. Remember to take your curious and playful side when you venture into nature. There is so much more to see, hear, smell and feel than is always immediately obvious. One last helpful hint – try not to be so goal-oriented with your project. Children typically will be building mud castles one moment and a mini-fort the next. Go with the flow. Be playful, not perfect.

Two of my all-time favorite projects are bush critters and seed mosaics. Here is a step-by-step guide for creating a seed mosaic. Bush critters can be found here:

For jaw-dropping creations made from flowers, leaves and stems, I would highly recommend checking out artist Raku Inoue.

Arianna Kelley Rawlsky has an M.S. in horticulture and is the director of Bringing People and Plants Together, an organization dedicated to bringing horticulture education and therapy to the community. For more information: or follow us on Facebook.