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"At Home With Nature" Book from Nature Explore Helps Families Build Outdoor Learning Spaces

date 08/17/12

For more information, contact

Jeff Salem, Director of Communications & Public Relations,   email

Lincoln, Neb. (August 15, 2012) – Nature Explore, a joint program of the Arbor Day Foundation and Dimensions Educational Research Foundation, released a new guidebook titled At Home With Nature: Creating Nature Explore Playscapes for Families.

The 120-page resource for families highlights research and case studies with descriptive photography and illustrations on how to create outdoor play spaces that encourage childhood learning and development.

The Nature Explore program provides materials, workshops and design consultation for research-based outdoor learning. While Nature Explore is well established with educational institutions and landscape professionals, the new book is aimed at parents and grandparents seeking to bring the same research-based principles and structures to their own children at home.

"Regretfully, many children today do not have access to the free-range childhoods and unstructured time outdoors that previous generations had," said John Rosenow, founder and chief executive of the Arbor Day Foundation. "This book helps to fill in some of those gaps by helping families bring nature-rich spaces to children and shape the minds of tomorrow's environmental stewards."

The book contains examples that fit for both traditional backyards and smaller, more urban spaces. Many of the tips are low-budget and encourage the creative use of existing materials.

The book highlights ten guiding principles for at-home playscapes. They are:

Be flexible in your design.
Divide the space into clearly delineated areas for different kind of activities.
Include a mix of activity areas.
Give each area a simple name or a visual cue.
Consider visibility when designing and locating each area.
Choose a variety of natural materials, including trees and other live plants.
Choose all elements for durability and low maintenance.
Maximize beauty and visual clarity in the overall design.
Personalize the design with elements meaningful to your family and your region.
Check and comply with codes, local ordinances and other regulatory standards.
The Nature Explore program is already changing children's lives by improving problem-solving and concentration, broadening cognitive and social skills and relieving stress through unstructured exposure to learning in nature.

A complementary copy of At Home With Nature is available to members of the media upon request.

About the Arbor Day Foundation: The Arbor Day Foundation is a nonprofit conservation and education organization of one million members, with the mission to inspire people to plant, nurture and celebrate trees. More information on the Foundation and its programs can be found at, or by visiting us on Facebook, Twitter or our blog.

About Dimensions Educational Research Foundation: Dimensions Educational Research Foundation was formed in 1998 to study how science, math and literacy learning can be enhanced by the addition of more visual-spatial activities into classrooms and homes. For a number of years, the Foundation has conducted and collected research on how children best develop visual-spatial skills and how teachers and families can optimally support this development. Dimensions Educational Research Foundation's goal is to create and deliver unique educational programming to 1) Help people better understand and appreciate the natural world by developing visual-spatial skills; and 2) Improve science, math and literacy learning through visual-spatial skills.

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