We can easily argue that this time spent outdoors, actively looking for the story nature leaves for us to read along the creek is better than any teacher-manufactured activity in a classroom. If this is kindergarten preparedness, give me a heaping dose of it every single day.
We observe the play, first and foremost, just for the joy of it. We observe to rediscover the wonder of play. Then we also observe to follow the relationships. We look for the connections between people, between bits of information, and between the children and the natural world. And because of this, we know the children.