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September 07, 2021

Natural Playscape and Playground Inspiration

This summer there’s a road that’s under construction near our house. Since workers and worker trucks are by far Teddy’s favorite thing in the world, we have spent a lot of time walking up to watch the construction. But on the walk we pass a local elementary school. The school has a small rain garden made from natural materials and native plants.

I’m not sure this small garden is supposed to be a play area, but it’s quickly become one of Teddy’s favorite spots to visit. To climb on the rocks, to kick the gravel, or walk over stumps has become an almost daily habit. It has been thinking about adding a more natural playscape to our own yard for all my children to enjoy.

There are so many amazing benefits to active play and I think those just multiply when natural elements are incorporated. Nature offers the perfect balance between risky play and enriching sensory experience. As Angela Hanscom says in her book Balanced and Barefoot, “nature stimuli tend to be more gentle, subtle, preventative, and, in some cases, even restorative. In fact, nature offers the ultimate sensory experience, and we are born as sensory beings. We learn about ourselves and the world around us through our senses and the more we were fine our senses, the better we are at doing…just about everything.”

We have a small section of our yard that we haven’t really been sure what to do with it. For the last few years it’s been basically ignored and abandoned. Now, I’m looking for ways to incorporate some more natural elements to the area. Turns out there’s a bunch of amazing inspiration on the internet to make that happen. I’ve linked some from Pinterest that I love.

At this point I think I really want a few things in our space. This includes:
  • Low maintenance native plants
  • Either rocks or stumps to climb
  • An area for digging and dumping, probably of the naturally clay soil
  • Something for balancing on
  • Natural loose parts

For now, I’m just gathering inspiration and thinking about how this could look in our space. As with all big outdoor changes, it may take awhile for use to actually execute it. And who knows, maybe I can convince Morgan to move all of landscaping to a natural playscape 😂 - haha!

Here is some inspiration for a Montessori inspired natural playscape and backyard playground.

Do you have a natural playscape or playground? What elements would you include in your space?


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Becky said…
We have a natural playscape garden that we LOVE. (@hedgecottage on Instagram if you want to see what we’re up to!)

If I were to add one more thing to your list, it would be an acrylic mirror. Just SO beautiful in an outdoor space - we use for self care, practical life (cleaning), art (sooooo many options!) and nature exploration.

So excited to see what you guys do!
Stephanie said…
We are having our yard redone a bit and are looking to incorporate many of the rocks on our property as steps, a stone area that is good both for drainage and play (scooping and dumping all day!), tree limbs as balancing beams, and a slide built into the hill!
Shirley said…
Ours is a mess, but tree stumps, some edible veggie snack garden plants, and wood chip paths have worked well so far. We also have a climbing friendly tree in the front yard that was planted by the city as a sapling when my oldest was a baby and it has grown with her, which is really fun!