Nature and Play at Home

by Heather Fox, Education Specialist, 
Dimensions Educational Research Foundation and Nature Explore

It is Spring and in most parts of the country people are in a flurry of fixing, planting and prepping their outdoor spaces. Beyond beauty, I hear more and more families expressing an interest in functional outdoor spaces. They desire a place for their family to relax, entertain and even explore. Parents and grandparents are asking, “How can I create a lovely place for my children to play and learn while we spend time together?”

With a little help form Nature Explore’s Ten Guiding Principles  a family can transform their yard, park and acreage into an oasis for exploration and learning. Here are a few tips to get you started.

  1. 1.  Think about some of your children’s favorite activities and create a place for them outdoors. Design a special area in your yard for gardening, block building, nature art, climbing and a place to play music.
  2. 2.  Include areas for both physical activities like playing tag and less vigorous activities such as observing quietly or reading a book.
  3. 3.  Make your space functional by adding storage in each area. For example, keep blocks and art materials near the area where they will be used.
  4. Involve the whole family in the plan and share in the creation of the space.

Zeb Buckley describes the benefits after attending an At Home with Nature Workshop and working with a group of families in Iowa City to transform their outdoor spaces into Nature Explore playscapes.

“Our Nature Explore Playscape has changed our lives. People may not know that’s what they’re looking for; we didn’t. But once you have it, it makes so much sense. Now to see
the girls outside, the benefits have been tremendous. Seeing our girls in the space makes you appreciate the skills they are developing.”

If you have been thinking about adding nature and playful learning to your outside space post your questions and ideas here.


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