Exploring Nature Play: Weaving the willow

  • DATE: September 2013

Making and building with natural materials at Shiremoor Adventure Playground, North Tyneside.

The magical part of Exploring Nature Play is that you can learn new skills whilst you create new features.

Our adventure playground is fairly new with lots of space for development. We talked to the children and young people about using natural materials to create interesting dimensions. They had seen some willow structures at a local park and wanted to know if they could plant some of these in their park. We took them to visit some local examples of willow structures and discussed with them what would look good in our adventure playground. We subsequently invited an expert to come along to the playground to explain to us all where willow grows, how to plant it so it will grow into shapes, and how to care for it.

The children were invited along to a willow field and helped to cut the willow they would use to create their sculptures. One child said, ‘this is really getting back to nature isn’t it?’ to which another replied, ‘mind out for the snakes in here!’

The children, young people and staff were trained in willow weaving and helped create willow shelters, tunnels and archways by a local expert.  They are now caring for the structures they helped make, and water it every evening to make sure it stays alive. They love to weave the new branches through the structure to create an amazing sculpture, which has brought their park alive.

Help us spread the word about the value of play

For more information on willow weaving look for local suppliers and courses. For these structures we used Ruth Thompson at www.sylvanskills.co.uk.