Using Natural Features: Families Together

The Best Practice: Nature to Nurture

Physical Characteristic - "Space design includes natural features such as logs and rocks that promote open-ended play."

The Showcase Site: Families Together

Families Together designed spaces for natural play and family time. A stump circle provides a place for children to play and for families to chat and spend time together. Tree cookies and naturally found branches provide building materials for forts and anything else a little one can imagine.

In addition to the natural play area, Families Together transformed the porches of their apartment units to create an inviting place for families to spend time outside together and play. They added benches, child size furniture, natural blocks, outdoor carpets, and art easels.

Nature to Nurture Supports These Key Early Childhood Mental Health and Development Tasks:

  • ‍Exploring and experimenting
  • Self-regulation
  • Family and peer relationships
  • Communication
  • Self-esteem
  • Coping
  • Mastery and challenge
  • Appropriate risk taking

Give It A Try:

There are many ways to create an inviting and fun space that includes natural features.

  • Identify the location. If the space is outdoors, look for areas that already have a lot of natural elements such as sticks, pine cones, rocks, and leaves.
  • For outdoor spaces, consider adding stumps for seating and play. Bamboo can be used for fort building. Sand and water are great for sensory play, discovery, relaxation, and all around fun.
  • For indoor spaces, use plants and natural materials to bring nature inside.
  • Don't forget about relationships! Now that you have your new natural space, create opportunities for families to engage and for adults and children to build positive relationships.

Check out our Pinterest Page for more ideas!

Download the Best Practices for full details on using Nature to Nurture.

Learn From The Experts:

Natural Learning Initiative

NC Museum of Natural Sciences - Prairie Ridge Ecostation

Walnut Creek Natural Park

Dr. Annie Louise Wilkerson Nature Preserve Park

Want to see real life examples? Families Together features elements of all 5 Best Practices. Check out the space! Schedule a visit!