Children in Nature - Natural Play Spaces

Elements of a Natural Play Space

Animal Allies - Creating Bonds and Associations with Animals

  • Connecting with nature from the animals perspective

  • The opportunity to observe animals or “explore” their worlds

"Projecting feelings and human characteristics onto animals facilitates relationships. It makes animals and people part of one larger family, with kinship relationships and rules for sharing and caretaking that weave the clans together. Rather than consider [anthropomorphizing] as immature or undeveloped, we can consider it advantageous as an opportunity to create empathy, a feeling for other creatures that can develop into a willingness to care for other creatures."

- Sobel, David; Childhood and Nature: Design Principles (or Play Motifs) For Educators, Stenhouse Publishing; Portland, ME; 2008

Whimsical animal sculptures using vegetation and other materals.

A bird blind for observing birds and animals.

Brookside Nature Center
Montgomery County

Animal carvings.

Locust Grove
Montgomery County

A bird nest built from twigs allows the children to be a bird themselves.

Photo courtesy of Parks and People Foundation

Wooden Dragonfly - Adkins Arboretum

Lizard shaped seating or balancing beams.

Paw Paw Playground
Adkins Arboretum
Caroline County