Bringing Nature to Play
Creating naturalized places for children and families to play is essential. Research proves natural environments improve the heath and wellness of people of all ages and abilities. PlayCore designates spaces that meet the best practice design principles found in NatureGrounds as National Demonstration Sites.
The purpose of NatureGrounds is to create a dramatic shift in the standard playground development process by deliberately designing nature back into the everyday spaces of childhood, not only to benefit children’s play, but also to engage communities in working together to deliver high- quality play experiences across generations. Research has proven that designing play environments that integrate the living landscape with manufactured equipment results in increased play value, higher levels of physical activity, social interaction, and improved environmental sustainability.
PlayCore has partnered with the Natural Learning Initiative, College of Design, NC State University, to help professional and community champions bring “nature to people” in an effort to reconnect children to nature to support healthy human development. The multiple benefits of a NatureGrounds play and learning environment include: play value, child development, health benefits, and environmental sustainability.
To help communities meet the requirements of a National Demonstration Site, GameTime provides the NatureGrounds guidebook. Developed by PlayCore with the Natural Learning Initiative at NC State University, it includes all the information your community needs to incorporate nature into the build play environment.
Naturalized playgrounds have become sought out destinations that provide visual interest, shade, and comfort resulting in sustained repeat visits, a relaxed and playful social atmosphere, and growth of community social capital. These well-designed playgrounds offer rich outdoor education and programming opportunities for both schools and parks.
Meeting NDS Best Practice Requirements
- Locate playground in relation to existing site features and surroundings such as mature trees and topography.
- Design entrances, pathways, and boundaries to enhance naturalization and connectivity.
- Integrate planting pockets (trees, shrubs, grasses) into the play environment as part of the play experience.
- Select child-friendly plants to provide additional play value using the Plant Database at playcore.com to offer variety, seasonal change, wildlife enhancement, and/or play props.
To learn more about the importance of naturalized play environments, and how your community can be recognized for leadership in this area, contact the GameTime representative in your neighborhood.