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Designing and Creating Natural Play Environments for Young Children

by Rusty Keeler
March/April 2003
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Article Link: https://www.childcareexchange.com/article/designing-and-creating-natural-play-environments-for-young-children/5015043/

There is a new movement in the world of outdoor play environments - a shift back to nature. Instead of filling backyards and playgrounds with traditional metal and plastic equipment, early childhood centers across the country are transforming their outdoor landscapes into magical environmental playscapes. You too can create sensory-rich play spaces that stimulate healthy development, change throughout the seasons, and offer children a world of creative play and exploration. These new play environments, inspired by the local community and its natural resources, can be made from grassy hills, trees, herbs, paths, sculpture, sand and water, and more - all with an intriguing medley of colors, sounds, scents, and textures.

Cherished memories

Think about your childhood for a moment. What was your favorite outdoor place to play? What was that environment like? Do your memories evoke specific sights, scents, and sounds? What did you do there? What did it look like and feel like? Did this place change along with the seasons? What sort of games did you play and what did you discover there?

Most of us have vivid memories of our favorite childhood play environment. This was the place where we began to discover the wonder of playful exploration. It was ...

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