As someone who grew up in a place where, though I had access to a traditional playground complete with metal slides, monkey bars, and swings, I also had quick access to seemingly boundless woods—and preferred the woods—this really comes as no surprise.
A new study from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville’s Department of Kinesiology, Recreation and Sport Studies looked at the way children play in “natural playgrounds”—those where dwarf trees and natural elements such as small streams and logs have been built in—versus traditional playgrounds composed of wood and plastic play elements.
The conclusion comes down squarely on the side of kids liking the natural playgrounds:
The children more than doubled the time they spent playing, from jumping off the logs to watering the plants around the creek. They were engaging in more aerobic and bone- and muscle-strengthening activities. “This utilized motor skills, too,” [assistant professor Dawn] Coe said. She also found that the children were less sedentary and used the porch area less after the renovation. (Science Daily)
When you introduce more natural elements into the traditional mix of slides and bars and climbing thingamajigs in playgrounds, kids really like it. And now there’s a study to prove it.