There’s a scene in the 1991 film “Hook” where Robin Williams’ character Peter Banning (who doesn’t yet believe he is the real Peter Pan) is sitting down for dinner with The Lost Boys. When everyone starts to eat, Peter realizes that there is in fact no food in the pots or on the plates. Tinkerbell (played by Julia Roberts) simply says “Eat!” with a shrug. Peter responds “What’s the deal? Where’s the real food?” Tink explains that he needs to use his imagination, and when Peter scoops his spoon into an empty bowl and pretends to launch it across the table, some sort of pink and blue dessert hits the current leader of The Lost Boys, Rufio (played by Dante Basco), right in the face. In an instant, it had all become real to Peter, and there was an enormous feast in front of him.
When I first saw a set of Bienenstock Natural Playgrounds Wacky Posts, I felt a little bit like Peter Banning. I didn’t quite understand what I was looking at, or what these posts sticking out of the ground were for. I think this is also the case for a lot of people investigating getting a natural playground designed and installed. They tend to feel like something is missing, and to be completely honest, there is. Don’t worry, I’ll tell you what it is right now before you click away. It’s one simple word: imagination.
I spoke with our Director of Training and Education, Jill Bienenstock, hoping for some insight into what some Wacky Posts and other natural playground components with a healthy dose of imagination can get you. I had my pen and paper ready, and still couldn’t keep up.
I think what is so great about Wacky Posts is that they make a perfect starting point for so many things. One of the most common things that children love to do outside is build a fort. Throw a blanket over top of the wacky posts, wrap them in fabric, and you have a perfect hideout. In the colder months, they provide the perfect starting point to build up snow walls against. Fort-building is an amazing way for kids to be working on their imagination, team-building, and social skills with one another.
You can also grab some ratchet straps and make a slackline for children to walk along. Move the ratchet straps up and you have something to be used as a monkey bar, or for kids to hang upside-down from. These are great options for vestibular development as well as working on core and upper body strength.
Once my pen cooled down, I felt like my eyes were opened to the all the Wacky Post possibilities. I’m also quite certain I heard one of The Lost Boys whispering in my ear, “You’re doing it, Peter!”