Outdoor Learning and Play

Through innovative design and installation of outdoor learning and natural play environments, families and educators experience engaging spaces that extend the classroom outdoors and connect people with nature. Well designed outdoor learning and play environments impact childrens’ creative and critical thinking; support physical, emotional, and social development; and encourage natural curiosity and thirst for knowledge – for all ages.

We approach our work with a systems mindset and have developed a collaborative and iterative design process – working with administrators, educators, parents, children, and community members as stakeholders in the future of learning environment innovation.

In addition to our attention to detail in materials selection for durability, flexibility, and enhanced experience, we have a high degree of commitment to resilient outdoor spaces and communities that practice and teach reuse and zero waste, restorative land use, animal care, food production, and land and water conservation and management. We encourage our school partners to open their campuses to the community in order to extend the reach of these inspiring spaces and engage families and neighbors.

During our research into the developmental importance of playing freely outdoors we discovered a profound lack of accessible natural spaces in school settings where urban children easily spend up to 8-10 hours every weekday. Urban Patchwork now helps schools envision a new future for their campuses through a master planning process that encourages elements such as calming woodland trails, creek beds with water play, sand and mud kitchens, creative dramatic play villages, natural climbing and balance structures, and food gardens, to name a few.

We encourage pavilions and community gathering spaces that invite families to stay and play or eat together in the evenings and on weekends. And, most of all, we help educators create spaces where “NO!”, Don’t Do that!”, and “STOP!” are not the most frequently heard words on playgrounds each day.