By Grace Kelly MS, OTR/L and Kira Selden MS, OTR/L
Outdoor play and exposure to nature has been found to have numerous positive benefits for childhood development. Experiencing nature has been shown to improve cognition and affect, such as increasing working memory, decreasing anxiety, and encouraging positive emotions (Bratmana, Daily, Levyc, and Gross, 2015). Additionally, spending time outdoors creates opportunities for multi-sensory experiences, such as interacting with different textures, smells and sounds. Activities including climbing trees, rolling down hills, making mud pies, and engaging with other natural obstacles further increase body awareness, sensory processing, and gross motor development. Studies have demonstrated that playing outdoors enhances gross motor skills such as balance and coordination (Fjortoft, 2004). Being outside also fosters imaginative play and social skills by using items solely found in nature to create unique play schemes. Download our fun and easy nature-based activity sheet for ways to get nifty in nature in your own backyard!
Bratman, G. N., Daily, G. C., Levy, B. J., & Gross, J. J. (2015). The benefits of nature experience: Improved affect and cognition. Landscape and Urban Planning, 138, 41-50.
Fjørtoft, I. (2004). Landscape as playscape: The effects of natural environments on children’s play and motor development. Children Youth and Environments, 14(2), 21-44.