Children need nature and the outdoors to develop:

Physically: climbing, roaming, jumping, collecting, exploring, running.

Sensory Awareness: breezes, noticing patterns, feeling leaves and hearing them crunch, touching textures, smelling flowers and herbs, collecting twigs, hearing birds.

Expression: through language, movement and creating

Independence: through unstructured, independent play

Love of the natural world

early play

All about early childhood



Outdoor activities.


  • plant flowers
  • collect rocks
  • camp in the garden
  • enjoy eating outside
  • bird watch
  • collect bugs or pine cones
  • observe ants before rain
  • blow bubbles
  • walk to the shops
  • play musical instruments
  • fly a kite on a windy day
  • roll down a hill
  • look at the stars
  • draw with chalk
  • paint with water
  • play ball
  • dance and sing


Understand the importance of outdoor play.


Natural Wonders. A Guide to Early childhood for Environmental Educators 

"Last Child in the Woods. Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder," by Richard Louv

From Kidsafe "What the research says:

  • Children who play regularly in natural settings are sick less often. Mud, sand, water, leaves, sticks, pine cones and gum nuts can help to stimulate children's immune system as well as their imagination
  • Children who spend more time outside tend to be more physically active and less likely to be overweight.
  • Children who play in natural settings are more resistant to stress; have lower incidence of behavioural disorders, anxiety and depression; and have a higher measure of self-worth.
  • Children who play in natural settings play in more diverse, imaginative and creative ways and show improved language and collaboration skills.
  • Children who play in nature have more positive feelings about each other.
  • Bullying behaviour is greatly reduced where children have access to diverse nature-based play environments.
  • Symptoms of Attention Deficit Disorder are reduced after contact with nature.

Click here for References & Further reading "



Earth Play Network - creating outdoor play environments for the soul

Learnscapes planning and design for school play environments

52 days to explore - outdoor ideas for the explorer in everyone



early play

All about early childhood

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