Play is simple and complex. An especially important vehicle for optimal childhood development and learning, play is so essential that the United Nations has described it as a basic human right. Play is learning. It benefits our cognitive-intellectual, social, emotional and physical health and well being. Researchers are learning how play out-of-doors, Nature Play, provides important ecologically appropriate stimulation, supports all learning modes, and facilitates a delight in the natural world. We encourage you to get outside and play outside!

Gaffield Children’s Garden is a sensory-rich, immersive, nature-play environment.  We know open-ended nature-play is inscribed in children’s hearts and souls, in their memory and imagination, to be recalled many times later in their lives and transformed into creative impulse, scientific exploration, the ability to think broadly and widely, and to carry a desire to help humankind and the future of our earth.

If you are a parent, teacher, or caregiver looking for more Nature Play resources, locally and nationally, please check out the follow links.

Free tickets to national lands & waters:

American Academy of Pediatrics position paper on Play

Tinkergarten local and national resources

Washtenaw Rec & Parks

Leslie Science Center

Children & Nature Network

Natural Learning Initiative/National Wildlife Federation


Natural Start Alliance

Children at Play Network


Alliance for Early Childhood

Greenhearts Initiative for Nature in Childhood


National Association for the Education of Young Children