Urban Outdoors: Natural Playgrounds
We’ll be the firsts to admit that there are many playgrounds that do not provide a great link to nature for kids. Sure, they are outside, but we’ve been to more than a handful of playgrounds that are basically giant plastic boxes full of giant toys to climb on. We want to go to playgrounds that have sandboxes, lawns to run on, areas where kids can play in the mud or simply roll down a hill. Believe it or not, it really is possible to find this type of fun in the urban outdoors!
There’s one particular playground trend that we are very happy to see taking off in cities all around the country, including our home of Nashville, TN. Natural playgrounds are an amazing way to foster creativity and active engagement with nature in an urban setting. These are playgrounds that include a minimum of (if any) synthetically processed materials. If those materials are used, then they are at least recycled or repurposed materials.
These photographs and video were taken at a natural playground at Shelby Bottoms Park just minutes from our house and just minutes from downtown. It’s huge and sits in the shadow of a local nature center and super cool train bridge. It has rocks and tree stumps to climb on, sand and mud pits to play in, structures made of natural material found in the park, a little creek, some real trees…wow. Everything kids love to do at synthetic playgrounds is right here, they just do those things on natural items.
This trend of moving toward more natural playground activity is awesome; we couldn't be more thrilled about it. Fortunately, we have a really strong parks system in Nashville, and there are now a few of these playgrounds in the city. For many cities these types of playgrounds may not be in their parks, yet. There's really good news, though...these can be easy to build in your own backyard. We haven't done it ourselves, but check out Nea's Pinterest board, "Natural Outdoor Play" or just search online for "Natural Playgrounds" for ideas. We're gathering the inspiration we need to start building ours piece by piece.
Do you have any natural playgrounds in your area, or have you ever built one? What are some of your favorite nature-based playground games and activities?
There is an amazing (and growing) community of family outdoor/nature bloggers, and we want to introduce you to a few. Although we've never met them in person, we count on them as resources and friends.
Melissa Edge is a Nature Rocks ambassador, and the brains behind Adventure Tykes (and her husband, Bret Edge...j/k, dude). Melissa and Bret go on some pretty epic adventures, especially epic considering they bring along their toddler son. AdventureTykes.com is where it all gets put together into fun stories and really helpful and easy to follow tips and tricks. You can find Adventure Tykes on Facebook and Twitter for all your outdoor family needs, and you can find Bret on Twitter for all your photography needs (seriously, he's really talented). Check them out!
Thanks for stopping by!
Pablo and Nea