Outdoor Play and Learning Environments

Hilltop CDC_Ilisa GOldman (1)Design Professionals

With each new project and newly designed space, there exists an opportunity to influence the way that children, families, and communities interact with the exterior environment. With a thoughtful and educated design approach, these new spaces can be designed not only to teach about the natural world, local ecosystems, and wildlife, but also to maintain the ability to create a deep routed bond between people and the natural world.  For further information, contact Ilisa Goldman, Landscape Architect, at moc.liamgnull@21namdlogi.

National programs

  • Nature Play and Learning Areas Guidelines is a project conducted by the National Wildlife Federation and the Natural Learning Initiative, NC State University, with the support of national partners. The aim is to develop national design and management guidelines for nature areas in children’s outdoor play and learning environments.. Refer to NWF Natural Play Prospectus.
  • Natural Learning Initiative, promoting nature in the daily experience of all children,http://www.naturalearning.org/ .
  • Pathways for Play, Integrating play into communities and bringing play back into nature,http://pathwaysforplay.org/
  • NatureGrounds, designing nature back into playgrounds, http://naturegrounds.org/
  • Gardens and landscapes that promote health and well-being, http://www.healinglandscapes.org/related/play.html
  • The Guidelines Project has issued a Call for Participants in a registry of Nature Play and Learning Areas to support and potentially illustrate the best practice criteria specified in the Guidelines. Access the Call for Participation.
  • Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Maryland Partnership for Children in Nature, “Loose Parts – Natural Play Spaces Elements – Children In Nature”  www.dnr.state.md.us/cin/nps/Loose_Parts.asp

SAM_0163Local Programs

Designing for Children’s Outdoor Play and Learning Environments, presentation by Ilisa Goldman at Schoolyard Habitats Teacher Workshops .Presentation OPALE Aug. 2013

Children are invited to engage in unstructured outdoor play, with a collection of nature materials, Loose Parts, Nature Play can be done almost anywhere—a garden setting, an open field, a lawn, or an asphalt lot.  The materials feature such local natural items as bamboo poles, sticks, tree cookies, pine cones, shells, and palm fronds. Loose Parts, Nature Play encourages children to build anything—teepees, tunnels, fairy houses, art sculptures and other play structures.  Presentation Loose Parts Nature Play Aug,  2013.  Contact Ilisa Goldman for more information, at gro.erutandnanerdlihcdsnull@namdlogi.

Request a School Garden Consultant from Master Gardeners of San Diego County to advise schools and early childhood centers on planning gardens and native habitats, at Schoolyard Habitat Page.