Monday, November 16, 2015

For those of you who know us, who visit us on social media or know us personally, you are not surprised by our passion regarding children, Nature and our belief that there must exist a healthy relationship between the two.

Yes, our jobs involve designing and constructing play areas, but our "jobs" don't stop there. We are continually striving to share what we learn about the importance of nature and of play with those who are willing and eager to listen.

Recently, we were made aware of this documentary called "The Land". According to the credits, "The Land (2015) is a short documentary film about the nature of play, risk and hazard set in The Land, a Welsh "adventure” playground. At The Land children climb trees, light fires and use hammers and nails in a play-space rooted in the belief that kids are empowered when they learn to manage risks on their own".

This film is supported by Playwork which is a practice and a profession that is said to remove barriers to children's play.  Playwork has a decades long history in Europe and a there exists a rather large library of theory. 

While we continue to educate ourselves in the importance of childhood play, we thought that we would introduce you to this film. Please feel free to leave your thoughts and comments in the section below. We'd enjoy learning your thoughts.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Hello to all and Happy October!

Where did summer go? We hope that this post finds you doing well and enjoying the beautiful fall weather we've been having [at least here in New England]. While our southern friends have been dealing with rain, rain and more rain, we've had crisp sunny days perfect for hiking, biking and apple picking!

For those of you who live in New Hampshire, you may have heard of the Mill Brook Gallery & Sculpture Garden in historic Hopkinton, New Hampshire. Owner and President of Natural Playgrounds Company, Ron King, will be presenting at the Gallery on October 14th. Mark your calendars and be sure to attend.

Wednesday, October 14,  6 pm: 
Providing A Space For Creative Play — The Benefit of Natural Playgrounds
by Ron King, Owner and President of Natural Playgrounds Architect

Ron King@naturalplaygrounds (181x268)Architect Ron King started the Natural Playgrounds Company 20 years ago. Natural Playgrounds designs and builds playgrounds without equipment so that children can experience creative, discovery-oriented “play” as it should be and often was for their parents and teachers. The company has designed natural learning and play landscapes in public and private schools, child care centers, public parks, and housing developments all over the country. Educators whose students are fortunate enough to have Natural Playgrounds report that bullying and cliques disappear, children with ADHD calm down, kids with disabilities finally have access to the outdoors alongside their classmates, and teachers and parents say that play behavior is much more creative and inspired. The children who play in these beautiful landscapes develop an aesthetic sensitivity, and a more resourceful and imaginative approach to day-to-day activities (including schoolwork!) and problem-solving. Ron’s presentation reviews the play value and safety myths that govern traditional, manufactured playgrounds and illustrates the way natural playgrounds are transforming and beautifying play environments while inspiring children to think differently about their surroundings and their place in the world.

We wanted to attach a shareable image - !so please feel free to attach this image to one of your posts and share this event information

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Off to the Races! Mud Run, Fitness Challenge Races, that is.

We got started by designing and building #mudruncourses for two event companies, several fitness courses for a New England city, and then mini challenge courses for child care centers, and then realized we should offer these elements to everyone, because obesity is the number one issue is this country due to lack of exercise!

When you click over to our website, you'll can see from the pictures featuring both young children and adults, the elements can be scaled to fit any age group, because no matter what their size, they offer the challenges that increase physical fitness, balance, agility, and awareness of self.

The prices shown listed under the photos on the website are for adult-sized elements, so if you want elements for children, please ask!

Family fitness runs (many of which involve mud :) are great fun and great fund raisers, but lots of times, even though you may want to put one together, buying or setting up the fitness elements are a little beyond your reach, so we have both a rental and an installation program that might help you get over these impasses.

You are interested in a temporary challenge? We can help with that as well. Here’s what we worked out for rentals anywhere in the contiguous US! 

For each element, rental is $684.95 per day of use (we don’t charge for the time elements are in transit), with a 2 day rental minimum. This rental fee includes shipping!

If you want help setting up and breaking down the elements:

For between 1 and 4 elements, we charge a total of $1173.95 per element per day (again with a 2 day minimum). This includes the rental, shipping both ways, installation, and dismantling.

For between 5 and 8 elements, we charge a total of $1078.95 per element per day (again with a 2 day minimum). This includes the rental, shipping both ways, installation, and dismantling.

Call or email us, and let us help you put together a fun and exciting fitness run!

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

No One Should Want a Risk-Free Playground!

Happy September!

For many of you reading this post, you've already prepared your children for another school year. Another year of new experiences, new best friends and new lesson plans.

Playground safety is everyone's concern, but protecting children from all harm is simply impossible, and research is also supporting the assumption that protecting children from all possible danger is unhealthy.

Children of all ages need to learn how to manage risk so as adults they're able to handle the risk in everyday living and decision-making.

It's up to you to provide safe or acceptable risk situations on your playground, whether that means your backyard play area or the play yard at your child's school. The more natural you can make your play environment, the more children will be able to experience safe risk encounters that force them to make play decisions teaching lifetime lessons.

Life lessons are not always learned in a classroom. Life lessons very often happen on the playground.

Encourage your children, your students to be careful, but not stop them from experiencing life to its fullest!

We want to wish you a most successful and enjoyable school year!

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

How Protecting Our Children Can Hurt Them.

We recently discovered this article online by Angela Hansom who is a pediatric occupational therapist and the founder of TimberNook. We wanted to share her Three Examples of How Play Outdoors can be Therapeutic because we so appreciate the critical importance of her science and the discoveries that she, and so many others in her field, have made regarding children and their need for physical exploration.

As you read Hansom's examples, we'd like for you to remember your own youth and what playing outside meant to you. What lessons you learned. What bonds were forged. What scraps and bruises healed and were replaced by childhood memories that will never be forgotten.

Three Examples of How Play Outdoors Can Be Therapeutic:
  1. Sledding: If you are lucky enough to have snow, sledding is a great sensory activity, especially if you frequently change positions on the sled. For example, if children go down the hill on their bellies, keeping their head and legs up in a superman position, this activates the vestibular (balance) system and improves body awareness over time. Flying saucers send children around and around, helping to establish a good sense of space.

  1. Walking barefoot in the woods: Walking barefoot on uneven terrain helps to challenge and strengthen the muscles in the ankles and develop the arches of the feet. It also helps to develop a reflex in the foot that helps prevent toe-walking. The sensations of dirt, sticks, and leaves on the bottom of the feet develop healthy touch senses and furthermore, assist with preventing sensory defensiveness on this part of the body. Running through the woods teaches children to effectively and efficiently navigate their environment, while challenging their balance at the same time.
  2. Rolling down a grassy hill: Rolling down the hill helps to provide necessary deep pressure to the muscles and ligaments – improving the proprioceptive sense. This sense is fundamental in helping children accurately regulate how much force to use when playing games like tag, coloring with crayons without breaking them, and holding a baby chick without squeezing too hard. Also, as the child rolls, they are spinning, which helps to develop a strong vestibular (balance) system.
If you'd like to read Hansom's complete article, please visit

For more information about Natural Playgrounds, visit our website at

If you'd like to share a few of your childhood memories with us, please leave a comment below.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

What Happens When Kids Get Bored?

We speak with many administrators who are leery about safety and standards compliance with nature play. We understand their concerns. One child hurt is too many.  
Our embankment slides are very popular. We have been asked to create playscapes using these slides because of the fun they provide, but we do get asked occasionally if they are safe. We wanted to share several thoughts from the founder of Natural Playgrounds Company regarding hillside slides and nature-based play that may help you determine if this is the right playground for your child and your community.

"...accident rates on traditional, equipment-based playgrounds continue to climb. According to the National Orthopedics Association, accidents on equipment-based playgrounds cost the US almost $14 billion a year, and some of those accidents result in deaths.

What this is saying it that in spite of passing all the stringent safety tests, and meeting all of the safety requirements and guidelines, equipment-based playgrounds are so unsafe that the accidents on them cost the US almost $14 billion a year!.... yet equipment manufacturers have no problem guaranteeing parents that children will be safe playing on their equipment because it has all been tested by ASTM/CPSC/IPEMA to be safe.

How can this possibly be? How is it that accidents on traditional, equipment-based playgrounds continue happening at this alarming rate? $14 billion!

We couldn't figure it out, and none of the safety experts could provide us answers, either, so we decided we needed to ask children what's going on. 

We interviewed 6000 of them, and they all gave us a very simple answer.

Manufactured playgrounds are boring.

The first day of school, it's all very exciting. The second day of school, it's the same thing as it was yesterday. The second month of school, it's the same thing it was the first day. The second year of school, it's the same as it was the first day.

Couple that with the sea of wood chips or rubberized surfacing, and you have a play environment that is absolutely lifeless, unchallenging, and leading to no discovery-oriented play, which is where the fun really is.

When children get bored, they do things on the equipment for which it was not designed: running up slides, and falling off the sides. Pushing each other out of boredom, sometimes over the sides of equipment. Climbing up on the tops of railings to jump off doing helicopters. Shinnying up swing supports so they can hang from the crossbar. Anything that makes play more exciting, but in being rambunctious on equipment elevated above the ground, they get in accidents, one after the other, to the tune of $14 billion a year here in the US.

In stark contrast to this, accident rates on natural playgrounds are almost nonexistent. The whole concept is to provide so much ground-based, discovery-oriented play based on natural landscapes, that children (and adults) constantly find new things, changes that take place overnight, insects and wildlife that inhabit the natural environment, giant, deep, freeform sand play areas with old-fashioned pitcher pumps so they can make big sand sculptures and dig to China, big logs lying on the ground so they can sit on them or straddle them, big hills they can run up and roll down...

...and built into those hills at ground level, they find exciting things to do:
• amphitheaters with stone or log seats for sitting on the hill that faces a stage for dramatic play
• a slide built into the hill, so there is no place to fall off the sides, with a typical fall zone at its base
• a climbing wall built into the hill, with a typical fall zone at its base
• shallow caves
• rock scrambles
• forts built into the tops of hills
• and many other features that make the three-dimensional hill an exciting place to be.

Then there are gardens that are part of the play area so children can play play in them, dig in them, weed them, harvest them; and there are groves of trees, and shallow streams, and rain gardens, and sound gardens, and huge loose parts play areas.

There are literally no heights from which children fall, which makes natural playgrounds inherently and significantly safer than the traditional equipment-based playgrounds to which you refer.

Every one of our playgrounds is designed to meet all ASTM and CPSC standards, and CPSI's who come to inspect them have fewer issues with them than with traditional, equipment-based playgrounds. ADA is pleased with them, as well, because play elements on natural playgrounds are all ground-based and very easily accessible.

.... we are trying to expose them to much more calm, discovery-oriented, nature-based play experiences that teach them about their bodies, nature, social interaction, and collaboration.

When I was a child, I would make forts out of branches, or I'd climb a tree and hug the trunk, or I'd lie on my back and look up at the leaves and pine needles against the sky, or I'd look down and find a dog toothed violet poking its spring head up through the leaves, or I'd sit and push the leaves around me into a circle that became my room, or I'd pick the wild strawberry in the field, and watch a grasshopper perched on a strand of grass moving in the gentle breeze.

These are the kinds of experiences we are trying to bring to play environments".

Ron King is president of the Natural Playgrounds company headquartered in Concord New Hampshire. The company designs and constructs Natural Playgrounds all over the US and can be reached through the web at, by e-mail at, or by toll-free phone 888-290-8405. Their website is full of research, pictures, fundraising sources, and information about Natural Playgrounds. Their store carries many of the items mentioned in the article.