Outdoor Play & Learning Project Resources

Numerous studies have found that time spent learning and playing in nature can boost mental acuity, attention span & creativity; reduce obesity & depression; and promote health & wellness. Multiple studies over the past 25 years have also found that frequent childhood play and exploration in natural spaces is the most common influence on the development of life-long conservation values and behaviors. Visit the Bay Backpack Outdoor Play & Learning Projects page to learn how to incorporate engaging features into creative outdoor spaces to improve student health and reconnect children with nature. Want to learn more? Check out additional resources below!

Links to Sections

Nature Play & Learning Spaces: Helpful Websites

American Forest Kindergarten Association

Boston Schoolyard Initiative: Schoolyard Design Guide


Earthplay: 5 Nearly Free Do-it-Yourself Nature Play Projects

Let the Children Play

Natural Learning Initiative

Affordable Settings & Elements: Cost Effective Ideas (NLI)

Natural Learning Initiative: Design Info-Sheets

Natural Learning Initiative: Green Desk

Natural Learning Initiatives: Resources

Top 10 Activity Settings: Natural Learning Initiative

Natural Playgrounds: Links to Natural Play Resources

Nature Explore

Nature Explore: Learning with Nature Resources

Nature Play Spaces Online Pattern Book: Project Green Classrooms

Play Outside! Database of outdoor play and learning resources

Resources List: Green Hearts, Inc.

Science of Nature-Based Learning Collaborative Research Network (NAAEE)

Also See:

AHS National Children and Youth Garden Symposium

Community Built Association

National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC)

Nature Play & Learning Books & Guides

Beyond Ecophobia: Reclaiming the Heart in Nature Education by David Sobel

Childhood and Nature: Design Principles for Educators by David Sobel

Designing Outdoor Environments for Children by Lolly Tai

How to Raise A Wild Child by Scott D. Sampson

Last Child in the Woods by Richard Louv

Natural Playscapes: Creating Outdoor Play Environments for the Soul by Rusty Keeler

Nature Play & Learning Places: National Guidelines by Robin Moore & Alan Cooper

Seasons of Play: Natural Environments of Wonder by Rusty Keeler

The Great Outdoors: Advocating for Natural Spaces for Young Children by Mary Rivkin

The Magic of Children’s Gardens: Inspiring Through Creative Design by Lolly Tai

Plants for Play by Robin Moore

Play for All Guidelines: Planning, Designing and Management of Outdoor Play Settings for All Children by Robin Moore

Nature Play & Learning Articles

Myopia: The Evidence for Environmental Factors

Rising anxiety & depression in children and adolescents related to declining childhood play

The decline of play in preschoolers and the rise in sensory issues

Children Now Spend Less Time Outside than the Average Prisoner

Nature Playscapes: Bringing the Wild Back to the Child

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