Nature Playground Design for Healthy Childhood Development

Summer is the perfect time to build your nature playground to help children recognise the importance of nature in their lives! Using nature as a tool for fun and creativity is a great playground idea for primary schools.

Having positive and regular experiences with nature teaches kids new things about their place in the natural world. From an early age, this can inspire interest in science and art while also developing ideals of responsibility and care.

Research finds that regular interaction with fresh air and nature plays a vital role in healthy childhood development and well-being. Encouraging active play or work in outdoor classrooms provide kids with the Vitamin D and fresh air they need for healthy development while also combatting sedentary behaviour.

Sensory play equipment and sensory gardens for special needs children create space for kids to discover outdoor sensations that many children in urban areas miss out on. The smell of flowers, the sound of birds, and the tactile action of nature den building introduce young minds to a new world of experience that is hugely beneficial to early childhood development.

Work with nature in your Playground Design

Using a range of materials and features into playground design create a unique and varied area for nature play and exploration. Organic play features create terrain for dynamic play experiences perfect for physical activity or imaginative, collaborative games. Wooden toadstool seating around trees is a great thematic meeting point on the nature playground that incorporates nature in new ways that kids love!

Natural structures including wooden play equipment are growing more popular than plastic or metal play equipment. These materials are more aesthetically pleasing and inspire imaginative play. Organic structures are great for children to explore the jungle on an adventure trim trail or scale castle walls on wooden climbing towers. The School Playground’s wooden play equipment is designed to be safe and sturdy with treated timber for a glossy, slip-resistant, splinter-free play experience.

Even in more urban areas without a range of naturally occurring vegetation like a treeline or room for a school garden, you can still work nature into your playground design. Research finds that simply existing around plant life on a regular basis has serotonin-boosting effects so even the smallest piece of nature can have a big impact!

Raised planters or flowers on a trellis with archways create a natural doorway that separates the playground from school buildings. Children need this to develop a healthy work-life (or school-play) balance to relax, de-stress and have fun!

Fun Nature Play Activities

School Gardens

Tending to the school garden is an exciting opportunity for many children that also teaches them responsibility and patience. Allow your students to dive in with the hands-on activity of assisting in growing flowers or even vegetables for a healthy picnic to celebrate the end of the school year!

A sensory garden for special needs students presents an amazing opportunity for creativity in playground design. A range of colours, textures, shapes, and smells from a range of plants of your choosing.

Some popular secret garden ideas that kids will love include:

Raised planters are a great option to allow kids to explore a love for gardening if you have limited space. They require less maintenance than an allotment-style school garden and are, therefore, perfect for younger children to assist in planting and watering.


Aside from learning about the lifestyle of plants in the school garden, nature play has many exciting educational opportunities for all ages.

Educational and sensory panels can enhance learning in outdoor classrooms or independent learning on the playground. Learning about animals, plants, and nature is a valuable skill for the development of natural science knowledge, vocab learning, and inspiration for storytelling.

Creating art from things found in nature can spark inspiration and creativity in kids to explore new elements of self-expression. Collages of leaves, twigs, and flowers or crayon tree rubbings are fun ways to introduce art but also foster a deeper appreciation for the beauty of the natural world. Special arts and crafts lessons in the outdoor classroom can be fun for everyone and provide shelter from the unpredictable rain of British Summers!

Nature Play

Nature den building is a unique way to help kids truly get stuck into nature play. A unique product in our imaginative, creative, and sensory play equipment, our all-new nature play and den building sets and accessories give your students the tools they need to create their own dens for hide and seek, imagination games, or just for some privacy.

Having a safe and open space to play is important for children to feel independent in their own fun, and nature is a huge opportunity for this. Organise a scavenger hunt for various natural items to teach skills of observation or recreate your favourite stories with natural playground elements like logs, trees, or even wooden trim trail equipment for a really challenging adventure!

Ready to Explore your own Nature Play Opportunities?

The School Playground Company is here to assist you in developing your unique and safe nature playground with all the active play, educational and fun elements you need.

If you think our playground equipment is right for your playgrounds you can continue to browse our products or contact us today for more information on how we can help.

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