Infusing Nature

Into the Everyday Spaces of Childhood

Research has found that children’s exposure to nature is beneficial to their academic, social, psychological, cognitive, and physical health. Explore evidence-based design best practices for outdoor play environments and trails that intentionally reconnect children with nature to support family fun, active lifestyles, and unique opportunities for learning. Case examples of playground naturalization and playful pathways will demonstrate innovative solutions to encourage multigenerational play and offer extended play value to visitors. A variety of tools and resources will be shared to assist with the planning and design process of creating innovative destinations that connect communities, encourage health promotion through play, and respond to our intuitive desire to engage with nature.

Learning Objectives:

  • Outline the current research and benefits of naturalized play environments and playful pathway networks designed to engage children with nature.
  • Describe at least three best practices/considerations when intentionally designing nature into the everyday spaces of childhood.
  • Summarize two case study examples of naturalized play environments and playful pathways that have been designed to encourage active lifestyles for children, families, and communities.
  • Describe available resources and develop an action plan for project implementation that addresses management, maintenance, partnerships, volunteers, and potential funding for sustainability.

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