Besides flying, what does a bee, wasp, butterfly, and bird all have in common? All four are pollinators! Pollinators help create and maintain ecosystems that benefit almost every animal on the planet. Without pollinators, the fruit at Kimmel would never exist. Since pollinators play such an important role in the environment, especially here at the orchard, it makes perfect sense to dedicate the orchard's playground to them. Kimmel's Pollinator Playground is finally open for the season! Beyond fun and physical activity, our playground provides many other benefits for children.
One unique aspect of our playground is an app that enhances both children and adult experiences. Buzz's Apple Hunt can be downloaded on a smartphone and used while exploring the various components of the park. The app promotes imaginative play and allows kids to further interact with the equipment through a scavenger hunt for imaginary apples. Not only does this app benefit children, but it also promotes bonding between the supervising individual and the child. The app suggests that an adult should be in control of the phone at all times and give directions as needed. Buzz's Apple Hunt provides an easy way to be actively engaged with kids by working as a team to collect all the apples.
Another unique component of the playground is the Happy Orchard characters found on the equipment. These characters promote learning and the importance of pollinators. Point these critters out to kids and follow up later with pollinator lessons. UNL Extension has many resources that include these characters such as coloring pages, the Happy Orchard App, and a few books! These books can even be found for sale in our Apple Barn.
Often, playgrounds simply look like slides and swings, however, if you dive deeper, there is much more to them. Playgrounds promote spontaneous play and push children outside of their comfort zone. This can occur by sliding down a tall slide or communicating with other children at the park. Interactions with the other kids foster social skills development. Kids learn how to introduce themselves and simply how to communicate with other kids or even adults. At Kimmel Orchard, there are two separate playgrounds geared toward different age ranges. Because of this, the playground often consists of both older and younger children. Younger children must learn how to communicate at different levels to benefit from all the activities on the playground. They learn verbal and nonverbal communication skills from the older kids by observing and interacting with the other children. It may seem like a small step at the time but may later help the child when they grow up and have to deal with a variety of different people in a work environment.
As you can see, there are so many benefits in one trip to the playground. The Pollinator Playground is open 7 days a week and is packed full of fun experiences. Not only is our park fun for kids, but it also educates and allows them to learn about pollinators. Make sure to check out the playground to promote imaginative play and intellectual growth.
Alyssa Rosenbaum - Education and Food Safety Intern