This design firm’s website provides examples of nature play spaces that often include accessible features.
This book includes examples and many photographs of children’s gardens designed to stimulate children’s natural inclinations.
This organization’s website has excellent resources about adventure play, articles on the value of outdoor play and risk in outdoor play.
This book is an early and excellent presentation of the value of childhood bonds with nature.
This Land Trust’s website describes a wide variety of nature play offerings and provides links to additional resources.
ASTM posts its technical standards for commercial playground equipment on this website.
NWF’s “Be Out There” initiative offers valuable ideas, research, and blogs about nature play.
"Beyond Ecophobia" speaks to teachers, parents, and others interested in nurturing in children the ability to understand and care for nature. This expanded version of one of Orion Magazine's most popular articles includes descriptions of developmentally appropriate environmental education activities and a list of related children's books.
This playground design website provides ideas to create natural play spaces to connect children with nature. Founder and Principal Designer Adam Bienenstock is an expert in the design and construction of innovative, environmentally sensitive, equipment-free natural playgrounds, natural playground elements and outdoor classrooms.
Cedarsong’s website provides links to a variety of nature education resources and training opportunities.
In "Childhood and Nature", noted educator David Sobel makes the case that meaningful connections with the natural world don't begin in the rainforest or arctic, but in our own backyards and communities. Based on his observations of recurrent play themes around the world, Sobel articulates seven design principles that can guide teachers in structuring learning experiences for children. Place-based education projects that make effective use of the principles are detailed throughout the book.
This website offers extensive resources, including compiled research reports, current news about nature play, blogs by Richard Louv and others, and a variety of activity guides.
A publication of Children and Nature Network
From the ages of five to twelve, the middle years of childhood, young people explore their surroundings and find or construct private spaces. In these secret places, children develop and control environments of their own and enjoy freedom from the rules of the adult world. "Children's Special Places" enters these hidden worlds, reveals their importance to children's development and emotional health, and shows educators, parents, and other adults how they can foster a bond between young people and nature that is important to maturation.
This website provides examples of nature playscapes. Follow the “Design” tab to the “Anarchy Zone” project in Ithaca NY for a rare example of an American “adventure playground” where children have broad freedom to build and create using both natural and manufactured materials.
Over the past five years, young people have increased the amount of time they spend consuming media by an hour and seventeen minutes daily, from 6:21 to 7:38—almost the amount of time most adults spend at work each day, except that young people use media seven days a week instead of five.
The Green Hearts website has a wide range of nature play articles and also offers guides for free download. The “Design Principles for Nature Play Spaces in Nature Centers and Other Natural Areas” under the “Resources” tab is a particularly relevant tool for nature play design.
These are best practices for developing parks that are environmentally sustainable and successful in connecting people to nature, including nature-based stormwater solutions (green infrastructure).
This conservation organization’s website offers materials about environmental education and nature play, as well as training for their chapter members and the public.
Last Child in the Woods is the first book to bring together the growing body of research indicating that direct exposure to nature is essential for healthy childhood development and for the physical and emotional health of children and adults. More than just raising an alarm, Louv offers practical solutions and simple ways to heal the broken bond—and many are right in our own backyard. If you have children, teach children, or care about children, this is a must have.
This landscape design website offers project ideas focused on nature play and sustainable landscapes.
A publication of www.Playengland.net, addressing safety in nature playscapes, with many specific examples and strategies.
"Mapmaking with Children" presents an inspired alternative to traditional geography education. Maintaining that there is no substitute for hands-on experience, David Sobel places the initial emphasis on local projects--projects that begin in students' own backyards and communities, projects that provide a sense of place.
The NEEF website posts articles about environmental education; NEEF also offers professional training and funding opportunities for environmental education.
NRPA’s website offers a wide range of resources and training opportunities that are relevant to nature play. NRPA is the primary professional organization representing the parks and recreation field.
The “Kids” area of this website provides nature play ideas, programs and information for educators and parents.
The NLI website provides nature play related publications, research data, news and resources. Training related opportunities are also published.
This design firm’s website offers numerous nature play and natural playground articles and information. Natural play research and links to resources are available.
An illustrated book about nature play designs, with most focus devoted to schoolyards.
The Nature Explore website includes an Outdoor Classroom Design guide as well as playspace design services, printed resources, and a variety of training opportunities. Nature Explore is a collaborative project of Arbor Day Foundation and Dimensions Educational Research Foundation.
This publication offers a set of guidelines for those who create, manage or promote development of nature areas in the everyday environments of children, youth, and families, especially in urban/suburban communities. The goal is to attract kids and families outdoors to interact directly with nature.
“Nature Play: Maintenance Guide”, available at http://www.playengland.org.uk, offers guidance and examples from the planning process through daily operations.
Unstructured, frequent childhood play in informal outdoor settings powerfully boosts the cognitive, creative, physical, social and emotional development of children. It also engenders deep conservation values; more so than any other factor. Part 1 of this guide explores the essential characteristics of nature play, the benefits nature play provides and the societal barriers to it. Part 2 describes the array of concrete actions that organizations may take to restore nature play to children's lives.
This book offers an extensive collection of structured but playful outdoor activities for children.
This website’s focus is primarily on guidelines and advocacy for environmental education professionals. Training opportunities and information on their educational initiative, Natural Start, are available.
Land trusts have available to them a variety of tools and examples of how to improve public access and provide programming on their lands. By providing opportunities for outdoor experiences, land trusts help foster people's connections to nature and conservation.
In 2016, nearly half of all Americans (48.6%) reported participating in at least one outdoor activity. That equates to 144 million participants, who went on a total of 11 billion outdoor outings. The participation rate and number of participants slightly increased, while the number of total outings decreased.
A profile of nature play areas located in Pennsylvania.
Through academic research, practical examples, and step-by-step strategies drawn from classrooms throughout the United States, Sobel celebrates teachers who emphasize the connection of school, community, and environment. "Place-Based Education" uses the local community and environment as the starting place for curriculum learning, strengthening community bonds, appreciation for the natural world, and a commitment to citizen engagement
This book is a simple guide to plant species that support nature play as well as poisonous plants to avoid.
The CPSC recommended safety guidelines for public playgrounds. Link can also be found at: http://www.cpsc.gov under the “Safety Education” heading.
An environmental education website, this resource provides curriculum materials geared towards connecting children with nature. Training and resources are designed for educators, parents and community leaders working with youth.
Council for Environmental Education, Project WILD
Walking is a free, easily accessible activity that improves physical and mental health and connects people with the outdoors. A variety of resources exist for promoting walking.
This book provides an overview of why children need less stress and structure in their lives; includes many examples of the benefits of outdoor play.
A new edition has just been published (2014) of this classic text that presents the case for children’s outdoor play in school settings, and provides practical advice on safety, accessibility, and curriculum.
The NAEYC website offers articles on children in nature topics and a variety of materials, guidelines, and training opportunities.
The relationship of Americans and nature is changing. Adults and children alike spend evermore time indoors, participation in activities like hunting and fishing is stagnant or declining, and shifts in social expectations treat engagement with nature as a mere amenity. These trends pose a
nationwide problem, since overwhelming evidence shows the physical, psychological, and social wellbeing of humans depends on contact with nature.
To monitor these trends and to reveal how to restore this relationship, social scientists conducted an unprecedented study of 11,817 adults, children, and parents across the United States in 2015–16.
"The Nature Principle" examines concepts similar to those in "Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder" and extends them into adult lives and entire communities.
Pyle's book highlights personal stories that capture how frequent childhood play led him into his career as a celebrated entomologist and nature writer. Highly recommended reading.
The EPA’s website provides links to a variety of resources and funding opportunities for environmental education.