Children in rural America struggle to find time and space to play. How can rural families add more play into their children’s lives without needing a playground?
Mindstretchers offers books, DVDs, trainings, speaking engagements, and more focused on nature preschools. The company also operates nature-based preschools, after-school programs, and summer camps at their facilities. Profits of Mindstretchers support its associated charity, Living Classrooms.
Help centers create nature-based outdoor spaces or classrooms by offering workshops, design consultations, and certification programs. Also sell natural play materials for use in outdoor classrooms and provide resources for families.
Project Learning Tree is an award-winning environmental education program designed for teachers and other educators, parents, and community leaders working with youth K-12. PLT includes activities and experiences to facilitate outdoor play and nature exploration, and also includes a children's CD. The GreenSchools! program provides materials for helping children and families connect with nature.
The Outdoor Classroom Project offers training, consulting, and design services for creating outdoor classrooms. Focused mostly in California, the organization maintains demonstration sites people can visit to see outdoor classrooms in action.
Run out of the College of Design at NC State University, this organization is focused on creating environments for play that encourage connections to nature and offer opportunities for stimulating play. The Natural Learning Initiative uses its design expertise to offer consulting and design services to create engaging, natural play spaces.
Green Hearts Institute for Nature in Childhood offers resources to connect young children to nature. Founder Ken Finch speaks, teaches, writes, and consults about the value of nature play and nature preschools. Green Hearts maintains an informative web site with resources related to nature play, nature preschools, and parent resources. Also offers a newsletter and limited publications.
The Children and Nature Network offers a range of programs aimed at connecting children, families, and communities to nature. This organization is closely associated with Richard Louv, author of Last Child in the Woods, and their site contains valuable research summaries, lots of ideas for ways that families can connect with nature, and more.
Nature Explore helps early childhood education centers create nature-based outdoor spaces or classrooms by offering workshops, design consultations, and certification programs. Nature Explore also sells natural play materials for use in outdoor classrooms and provides resources for families.