Natural Play

Engaging Body and Mind

Nature is the perfect playground and an optimal learning environment for children to explore its patterns, textures, loose parts and continuous change; however, recent times have shown an alarming decline in outdoor play and children’s direct exposure to nature. While the correlationHillslides Play 1 between outdoor play and social, cognitive and behavioral development is well documented, the deprivation of this connection with nature can attribute for the rise in anxiety, obesity and depression amongst children


Fostering an environment that encourages kids to get outside is crucial. In an effort to reconnect children with the natural world, we introduced our Outdoor Learning Environments in 2008, championing the concept of natural playgrounds. Outdoor Learning Environments are a fun way for children to fully reap the benefits of outdoor play while tapping into the energy of the natural world.

Playground Safety Surfacing

Our Outdoor Learning Environments offer children the opportunity to play with and among natural elements. While traditional PDPlay playgrounds are comprised of our HDPE recycled plastic lumber, our Outdoor Learning Environments incorporate natural elements that still comply with commercial playground guidelines and safety laws. These playgrounds include components such as local plants and boulders, sustainable slides built directly into grass hills, or tree surrounds and seating areas to contribute to the authenticity of the natural environment. Adding these elements can enhance and reinforce the lessons children learn in the classroom while promoting social interaction and encouraging physical and imaginative play.

Our Outdoor Learning Environments are readily adaptable to sites of varying sizes and are Sand 09custom designed to best utilize the surrounding environment. They encourage ingenuity while supporting growth and development, incorporating ideal elements to attract, engage and keep children’s attention so they play longer and more often. Additionally, they give children the opportunity to learn the impact they have on their immediate surroundings and the environment as a whole.

The six natural elements our Outdoor Learning Environments are composed of include sand, water, gardens, trees, hillslides, and boulders. Each component offers an array of options for learning and development, and can be utilized on an individual basis or collectively in groups. Our sand and water features are often paired together, as both elements provide a hands-on approach to sensory play. Gardens and trees can be combined to give kids the opportunity to see how nature evolves and interacts with wind, rain and the seasons. Hillslides and boulders can be installed virtually anywhere, and are the perfect component for active kids.


With traditional playgrounds, there are very few opportunities for children to choose how they will play with each component: swings are for swinging, climbers are for climbing, and slides are for sliding with no variation. With natural playgrounds, there are no preconceived rules, so children can use their imaginations to decide for themselves how to interact with each of the elements. This sense of freedom stimulates kids capacity for creativity while improving awareness, reasoning and observation skills.

Our Outdoor Learning Environments require one essential ingredient to be successful: imagination. Imagination is a gift inherent in the minds of young children and one that will be challenged and even questioned as they grow in this age of modern technology. Our Outdoor Learning Environments foster and nurture this precious gift by supplementing traditional learning with natural learning. Through natural learning, the outdoor classroom enhances and reinforces the lessons students learn in every subject from math to the arts.

Water Feature at La Jolla United Methodist Church

Our Outdoor Learning Environments allow children to create a curriculum that reaches far beyond the classroom, with plenty of places to run, climb, splash, pretend, discover and of course, get dirty. Keeping this in mind, we believe that it is our job as purveyors of play to provide the best natural playgrounds for kids to enjoy. Constructing safe spaces that engage children’s minds and bodies is the best way to ensure that they’re getting the full intellectual, emotional, social, and physical benefits of play.

Our natural playgrounds will have a lasting impact and provide a safe play environment for generations to come. By crafting playgrounds from eco-friendly and natural materials, we’re teaching our children the true value of our environment and allowing them the opportunity to experience it firsthand. We believe that these earth-conscious ideals, along with our design and manufacturing ingenuity, are key components in creating natural playgrounds that are safe, dependable and most importantly, fun.Custom Design-1

We look forward to helping you build your next playground! Let us work with you to design and develop a custom natural playground that will engage young minds and bodies while complimenting the surrounding terrain. Contact us to get started.