Nature Play & Environmental Connectivity | eePRO @ NAAEE

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Nature Play & Environmental Connectivity

Nature Play & Environmental Connectivity

Art and science practices merge connections in the design of nature playscapes.
Explore the process of envisioning phased outdoor classrooms from conceptualization to realization.

Unstructured play in natural settings is critical for nurturing young imaginations. Play that takes place on asphalt is denatured. This best practices session introduces activities that investigate both the nature of play and the art, science, and design of nature play. Nature Play Spaces draw from art, architecture, child development, engineering, and ecological and design research.

Participants look at what "is" and imagine what "could be." Using ideation, analysis, diagramming, and conceptual prototyping tools, participants define site-specific kinds of play (artistic, natural, active, passive, sensory, constructive, and dramatic) and select sites on their school grounds. Participants are supported with virtual field trips, global case studies and nature play demonstrations, connecting real-world art practices with play research as new instructional paradigms.

Participants learn site analysis and site design strategies overlaid with play and learning programs. Determining scenarios for usage and imagining users, participants assess potential areas and activities. Mapping play zones, paths, and destinations, participants discover opportunities for transforming grounds into active places for making art.

Presenters are environmental designers/educators with national webinars on playscapes and Nature Play workshop experience with students of diverse ages.

Come and Play!

Danks, S. G. (2010). From asphalt to ecosystems: Design ideas for schoolyard transformations. Oakland, CA: New Village Press.

Diaz, D. (2011). A Guide to what, why and how of unstructured nature play.
Chicago, IL: Peggy Notebeart Nature Museum.

Gill, T. (2014). The Play return: A review of the wider impact of play initiatives. United Kingdom. Children’s Play Policy Forum. Downloaded from

Louv, R. (2012). The Nature principle: Reconnecting with life in a virtual age.
Chapel Hill, N.C: Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill.

Nelson, E. M. MA. (2012). Cultivating outdoor classrooms: Designing and implementing child centered learning environments. St. Paul, MN: Redleaf Press. (2015). Outdoor classrooms. Retrieved from (2015). Play. Retrieved from (2015) PlayScapes. Retrieved from

Senda, M. (1992). Design of children’s play environments. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill, Inc.

Solomon, S. G. (2005). America’s playgrounds: Revitalizing community space. Lebanon, NH: University Press of New England.

Asphalt to nature play
Asphalt to Nature Play
Nature Habitats