Nature Play and Learning Places

What is a Nature Play and Learning Place?

Nature Play and Learning Places are intended to be a bridge between the familiar and our natural ecosystems and allow children of all ages and abilities to form an emotional bond with their natural environment and encourage healthy, active children with an understanding and connection to their natural world.

These places provide an important early connection for children with nature and create future environmental stewards; promote outdoor physical activity; and foster a sense of community among children and adults through a fun and safe gathering place.

A Nature Play and Learning Place is defined by the Natural Learning Initiative as "a designated, managed area in an existing or modified outdoor environment where children of all ages and abilities play and learn by engaging with and manipulating diverse natural elements, materials, organisms, and habitats, through sensory, fine motor and gross motor experiences."

Elements of these playspaces often include:

  • Adventure – physical challenges including climbing and balancing
  • Paths, trails and maps
  • Imagination and creative play -  building, making art, playing make-believe
  • Special places – forts and dens either found or made
  • Loose parts- things that can be manipulated such as rocks, sticks, sand, pinecones, leaves, etc.

Find a Nature Play and Learning Place

Search for Nature Play and Learning Places near you by city or zip code by following this link and checking the "Nature Play and Learning Place" box. If you would like to add your play and learning space to our directory, follow this link.

The Natural Learning Initiative

For more information about nature play, visit The Natural Learning Initiative.