Nature Based Play Environments in Long Day Care

Apr 3, 2023

Two young girls play in mud at childcare centre.

Children love spending time outdoors – it’s a rich and stimulating environment that offers ample opportunity to learn and explore. Nature play is any kind of unstructured play in an outdoor setting, with natural elements opposed to manufactured play equipment. It’s been proven that this type of play is important in the first five years.

The University of South Australia recently conducted a study looking at the health benefits of nature play for young children. That supports the development of innovative nature play spaces in childcare centres and schools.

The study concluded that nature play improves the physical activity, motor skills, social and emotional development. It also showed an improvement in children’s cognitive outcomes, like concentration, attention span, settling in class and other forms of play.

Nature Play in Early Education

Due to the benefits, nature-based programs in early education have become popular. Types of nature play can include trips to the local park, gardens, community spaces or to the bush.

Integrating natural elements into a playground with logs, rocks, water features and dense vegetation reap similar benefits. It allows for less structured play that is messy and enriching for kids. It also introduces concepts such as science, maths and increases creativity. Best of all this will fosters an appreciation for sustainability and cultural heritage.

Nature play is messy

This comes as no surprise, but nature-play is messy! Outdoor play is a sensory experience and that’s what makes it so beneficial for children.

Children learn through touching, smelling, tasting and seeing. Nature play will mean some mud stains but think of it as a unique learning experience that won’t last forever and is vital for your little one.

Build resilience and risk management

While safety is key to every playground – nature play teaches resilience and risk management. Which is important for development. Play balances elements of risk when using equipment, building and facing challenges. With the safety of supervision, soft landing spaces and age-appropriate activities.

Nature play can seem messy and risky – but that’s the idea – it’s a part of growing up and teaches children to identify risks and bounce back when things don’t work.

Embracia Playground

Embracia Childcare and Kindergarten has a dedicated team who are building an amazing nature-based playground at our Kyneton upcoming centre.

We are creating an evidence-based and enriching outdoor environment for children. Complete with an outdoor kitchen, logs, rocks, dedicated learning spaces, native vegetation and equipment that blends in with the natural environment. Maintaining cultural heritage, awareness and sustainability is important for our centre. That’s why each learning and play space has been thoughtfully designed to reinforce these values.