Bamboo is the fastest growing plant on the planet, growing at an amazing 35 inches per day. It’s strong, flexible, edible, and has numerous applications in construction and for the production of goods like furniture, bike frames, crafts, and toys. It’s also a fantastic material for nature play.
So when the SF Botanical Garden staff offered us bamboo shoots from their yearly culling, we jumped at the opportunity as a way to advance nature play in early childhood and community hubs.
With support from First 5 San Francisco and SF Rec & Park, two truckloads of bamboo were delivered to five Early Childhood Centers, 11 Family Childcare Homes, and two Community Hubs.
The hardest part was to clean and cut the bamboo into little pieces, to sand and gloss them to make them look pretty and shiny! But all the work was worth it! The children love them and have come up with good ideas! I am working with preschoolers and school-age kids now, and the older ones help the young ones by leading activities and teaching them what they can make with the bamboo sticks.
Esperanza EstradaEstrada’s Family Preschool
Once at the sites, the teachers and students found a myriad of possibilities for the use of bamboo. From teepees to musical instruments, to water troughs, sand tools and settings for imaginative play. We hope you are as inspired as we are from the results:
One of my students said he wanted to go skiing. He pulled apart the bamboo, made skis, and then took his friend for a ride!
Monique GuidryGuidry’s Early Care & Education
Bamboo has a special meaning in the Chinese community. When I was little, my cousins and I did not play with toys, we played with bamboo! I am so excited to have them in our child care. We’re saving our bamboo for our upcoming Lunar New Year celebration and are planning Chinese style crafts and activities.
Pyrena HuiModern Education Family Childcare
- Bamboo is a giant grass! It is not a tree.
- Bamboo strands release 35% more oxygen than equivalent stands of trees.
- Bamboo is used in folk medicine to treat infections and to accelerate healing of the wounds.
- Bamboo has a stronger structure than steel.
- A panda’s diet is 99% made up of bamboo shoots, poles and leaves, around 12-38kg every day!
- Snakes don’t like bamboo and other facts.
More Inspiration for Bamboo Play:
- The Teepee Farm | Play based nature learning with St Andrews Samakee School – Bangkok, Thailand
- Pinterest | Bamboo Structures
- NAEYC | Preschoolers Play with bamboo
Many thanks to the educators that participated in this project and shared their work.