Projects to Encourage
Outdoor Play & Learning

In the groundbreaking book “Last Child in the Woods”, author Richard Louv addressed the alienation of children from the natural world and highlighted the benefits of a strong nature connection. At a time when childhood obesity and inactivity have become issues of national concern and experts have begun to call the sustainability of our way of life into question, a growing body of research sites the positive effects that outdoor time can have on children’s physical and mental health. Numerous studies have found that time spent learning and playing in nature can boost mental acuity, attention span & creativity; reduce obesity & depression; and promote health & wellness. Multiple studies over the past 25 years have also found that frequent childhood play and exploration in natural spaces is the most common influence on the development of life-long conservation values and behaviors. It has never been more imperative to get our kids outside, yet many children spend 30 minutes per week or less in unstructured outdoor play! Help turn that trend around by learning to create engaging outdoor learning and play environments to improve student health and reconnect children with nature.

Tip: Don’t miss out on the Outdoor Play & Learning Project Resources page! Find incredible state & local project-specific resources for all six Bay watershed states and D.C.


Girl using magnifying glass

Encourage Observation & Discovery

Even the best projects can fail if you don’t incorporate elements that invite exploration and use. Learn about features to encourage students, staff and visitors to explore, utilize, enjoy and help sustain your project!

Projects »

  • Observation & Discovery Features
  • Children playing together outside

    Nature Play Areas

    Learn how to create a safe, fun and engaging natural play space featuring natural items and creative play opportunities to connect children with nature, provide mental and physical health benefits, and promote future environmental stewardship!

    Projects »

  • Create a Nature Play Area
  • Deep Haven school and garden

    Outdoor Classrooms, Labs & Habitats

    Learn how to construct and utilize outdoor classrooms, living laboratories and schoolyard habitats to provide engaging hands-on instructional and learning opportunities across the curriculum.

    Projects »

  • Outdoor Classrooms, Labs & Habitats