Common Elements of a Natural Play Space

Fort made from tree branches

Hiding Places

Forts, Bird Nests, Willow Tunnels, Hollowed out trees, Hidden Areas within gardens, Teepees, etc.

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Hershey Gardens, flowers and a butterfly sculpture


Native Plants, Raised Garden Beds, Sunflowers, Rain & Pollinator Gardens, Food Gardens for Demonstrative Purposes, Repurposed Planters, etc.

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Kids at an activity center at Acorn Hill

Loose Parts

Sticks, bamboo pieces; tree cookies; baskets with loose parts; “kitchens”; seashells, rocks and pinecones;

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Natural things to climb on, trees, stumps and grades.

Varying Terrain

Slopes, Steps, Obstacles incorporating slopes, varying sizes of rocks/gravel, “foot play.”

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trail in the woods lined with sticks and paved with bark and wood trimmings


Tree Cookies, Stones, willow pathways, brick pathways, boarded pathways, bark trails.

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Girl by a small stream


Water with fake pumps, fake “stream beds”, sprinklers, rain barrels, natural log flumes.

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Sliding board with tree stump seats that make a climbing wall


Old canoes, logs, stumps, natural & carved wood - seating, rocks, etc.

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Nature Center name carved into a tree with a bear on top


Signage to connect ideas and meanings with objects; Signs addressing “Green Fear”, other “inviting” signs.

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