Natural Play Area Design

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Backyard Play Ideas

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Nature Play Resources

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Outdoor Unstructured Play

Go and open the door, Maybe outside there’s a tree, or a wood, a garden or a magic city.The Door, Miroslav Golub


Unstructured Play is a set of activities that children dream up on their own without adult involvement. This type of play rarely has predetermined goals or objectives but instead allows children to create their own rules and establish their own limits.

Outdoor unstructured play in nature has been shown to be beneficial in many ways, far beyond fresh air and sunlight.

In a “Pop-up” Nature Playground, a tree cross-section becomes a stepping stone for a walking path, scattered tree branches are used as poles for a tree tepee, long brown vines become make-believe bird’s nests for story time, and stacks of raw wood blocks become an imaginary fairyland castle.

As demonstrated by the Pop-up playground created by BackYard Nature Center for The Alliance for Early Childhood and the Winnetka Park District, the benefits of outdoor unstructured play include:

  • Stimulating imagination and creativity
  • Fostering cooperative problem solving in an environment where children learn to set rules and negotiate without parents or coaches
  • Contributing to physical development by creating balance and physical challenges using found objects improves coordination and strength
  • Relieving stress
  • Increasing attention span

Nature Locations In New Trier Township

BackYard Nature Center partners with various local organizations to create nature play areas in New Trier Township. Contact Us to ask about opportunities in your neighborhood.

Parks

There are over 70 outdoor parks in NTT, have you explored them all?

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Schoolyards

Many schoolyards have native plantings and nature play spaces made from natural materials, these play spaces reduce waste and can easily be reconfigured. Can you recognize the difference?

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Forest preserves

Expands hundreds of acres across NTT starting at Chicago Botanic Gardens and extending south to Gillson Park along the lakefront, looking for outdoor activities to plan with the family?

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Backyards

Whether it is a bird sanctuary, private play space, or a garden to view the changes from season to season, have you explored nature in your own backyard?

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Upcoming Events

Get involved by attending one of our events. We plan regular events for educators and the community to help promote nature learning initiatives. There’s something for all ages, Toddlers to Adults!

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Skokie Lagoons Second Saturday
10 November 2018

Skokie Lagoons Second Saturday

Where: Skokie Lagoons, Glencoe

Time: 10:00a.m. - 01:00p.m.

Skokie Lagoons Second Saturday
08 December 2018

Skokie Lagoons Second Saturday

Where: Skokie Lagoons, Glencoe

Time: 10:00a.m. - 01:00p.m.

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