What is a natural playground? Simply stated, it’s an area where kids can play with natural elements such as dirt, water, wood, plants, and found objects like pinecones, acorns, feathers, and leaves. Everyone can remember a favorite place to play in a natural environment like a nearby vacant lot, a field, wooded area, a park, or even your back yard. Today with calendars filled with obligations and activities, many children don’t have the time or access to engage in this kind of play so when they finally have some time to themselves they tend to flock to electronic games and television instead of going outside.
Research suggests that playing in natural environments increases class participation and decreases absenteeism, decreases bullying, decreases injury rates, increases focus and attention span, and helps with social skills. So it’s up to us – parents, schools, communities, and stewards of our shared natural lands – to re-introduce to children what it means to play in the outdoors. You protect what you love!