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Nature Based

Nature provides countless opportunities for discovery, creativity, problem-solving,

and by interacting with natural environments allows children to learn by doing

and experiment with ideas. In nature, children think, question, and make

hypotheses — thereby developing an inquisitive mind. 

Nature play is, of itself, an intrinsic good and from it flow benefits in health, cognitive,

social and emotional development and in the building of resilience and creativity.

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Benefits of Nature

From: Bright Horizons

Learn how playing outdoors in nature can benefit your children intellectually, socially, emotionally, and physically, and discover activities for fostering their development. Most of us spent ample time in nature as children, climbing trees, exploring rocks and bugs, or even just playing games outdoors with friends. Little did we know that these fun activities were actually building our brains, bodies, and characters for later life. Today, ample research has shown that nature exposure has numerous long-term benefits.

What Are the Benefits of Playing in a Natural Environment?

Outdoor play fosters children’s intellectual, emotional, social and physical development. And by being outside and surrounded by nature, children experience an ever-changing and free-flowing environment that stimulates all the senses.

Intellectual Benefits

The natural world is a giant, open-ended learning laboratory. Children are innate scientists and love to experience the sights, scents, sounds, and textures of the outdoors. Nature provides countless opportunities for discovery, creativity and problem-solving. Interacting with natural environments allows children to learn by doing and experiment with ideas. In nature, children think, question, and make hypotheses — thereby developing inquisitive minds. Whether they’re judging the distance between two rocks before jumping or considering where insects go in the winter, children are constantly thinking when they’re in nature. These experiences offer real, authentic learning like nothing else can. As children take risks, try and fail, and try again, they gain resilience and confidence.

Brain Building Nature Activity Ideas:

  • Build with and dig in dirt

  • Watch worms wriggle through the soil

  • Gaze at clouds

  • Jump in puddles

  • Listen to birds sing

  • Smell fresh-cut grass

  • Collect seeds

  • Construct things with twigs and mud


Emotional Benefits

Being outside feels good. Children are free to explore, move about, and make noise — all delightful forms of self-expression that are often restricted indoors. In nature, children can run, jump, hop, skip, climb, roll, and shout, which relaxes, and reduces tension, anxiety, and restlessness. Furthermore, nature enhances a sense of peace and often brings out nurturing qualities in children. Many energetic children slow down to dig a hole in sand, watch a ladybug crawl, or spend focused time playing with a stick in a mud puddle. Several studies have found that exposure to nature can reduce symptoms of ADHD and anxiety.

Social Benefits

When children play outdoors there may be opportunities to interact with new and different playmates. In nature, children can play alone or connect with one another, learn to share, and problem solve. In the natural world, children often collaborate to make up games and rules because there are no prescribed sets of instructions. When exploring outside, school-age children may not be in close proximity to adults, which gives them time to make up their own rules and solve their own problems without inhibition. Often, when involved in the natural world, even boisterous, active children may slow down and learn to focus on being gentle. They also may develop empathy and reach out to console a friend who seems hurt or sad.

Physical Benefits

The fresh air of the natural world is invigorating and offers endless opportunities for physical activity, which, in turn, builds strong bodies. Exposure to sunlight means children absorb vitamin D which has many positive benefits, including contributing to a strong immune system. Outdoor play also allows a child to be more physically active than indoor play, potentially burning more calories and contributing positively to a child’s overall fitness. 

Outdoor Activity Ideas:

  • Climbing trees

  • Chasing a friend 

  • Standing on one foot

  • Falling over

  • Hanging and swinging from bars

  • Jumping over or into puddles


And what’s good for kids is also good for parents. Don’t be afraid to join in. Nothing beats trying to cross a stream by stepping from rock to rock (even if a sneaker gets wet or a knee gets bruised), or climbing a tree higher than you knew your child could climb. Providing a reasonable balance of risk and safety is the job of parents, and providing some level of challenge allows children to learn new skills.

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