Date of Award


Degree Type

Creative Project

Degree Name

Master of Landscape Architecture (MLA)


Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning

Committee Chair(s)

Keith Christensen


Keith Christensen


Lisa Boyce


David Anderson


Play environments are crucial to providing developmental opportunities for children and natural playgrounds provide a developmentally rich play environment. This study compared elementary school playgrounds and nature explore classrooms to determine what natural play spaces can be implemented into an elementary school playground for developmental benefits. The playgrounds were evaluated on safety, ADA requirements and what developmental affordances are encouraged through different play components. A Nature Playground Play Spaces List and handouts were developed, and a playground design exploration was conducted as an example for how the play spaces list can be used and to show what benefits can be seen from incorporating the play spaces.

The study suggests that there are developmental benefits in incorporating natural play spaces into an elementary school playground and through intentional design and consideration these spaces can provide greater developmental opportunities for children.