Nature Play for Children lectures and workshops scheduled (Cleveland Area)

For many of us, outdoor play was a daily part of our childhood. Today that kind of childhood has all but disappeared. In the United States kids spend nearly 30 percent of their time with electronic media, but just a tiny fraction as much outside. Frequent, spontaneous play in “wild” outdoor settings provides perfect support for the entire spectrum of child development needs: physical, social/emotional, creative, intellectual and spiritual. But over the past 30 years those
positive influences have largely vanished from our children’s experiences.

The Holden Arboretum and Cleveland Botanical Garden are collaborating to offer a series of lectures, workshops and classes. These offerings are for parents, teachers, informal educators and anyone else who has an interest in young children. They are designed to inspire, educate and give first hand experiences about the importance of nature play and how to encourage it and plan for it. Scroll down or click here for a full listing and description of events.

Go Outside and Play! — Why Our Parents had it Right, 7 p.m.Thursday, April 18

Lecture for parents and educators at The Andrews Osborne Academy, Willoughby,Ohio. Free event, but registration is required.

Ken Finch, president of Green Hearts Institute for Nature in Childhood, Omaha,Nebraska, will help us to understand the value and impacts of nature play and how we can restore it to our children’s lives — whether in backyards, neighborhood parks, child care centers or schoolyards. Finch will use anecdotes and research data to inspire us to head home with new ideas and passion for restoring the true nature of childhood!

Creating a Nature Play Space: Big or Small, 8:30 a.m. – 3 p.m. Friday, April 19

Workshop for parents and educators at The Holden Arboretum, Kirtland, Ohio. Cost $30.

Would you like to expose the young children in your life to more nature play? Join us as we explore the nuts and bolts of how to accomplish this in your space. Ken Finch, president of Green Hearts Institute for Nature in Childhood, will share the whys and hows for successful nature play. Hear from local early childhood organizations that have taken the first step to incorporate nature play at their sites. Challenges, features, costs and support that are needed for success will be covered. First hand experiences in Holden’s own Buckeye Bud’s Adventure Woods will be included. This workshop is for anyone with the desire to start or add to their outdoor nature play space.

The Science of Play Based Education, 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Friday, May 17

Symposium and Workshop at the Cleveland Botanical Garden. Full-day participation (registration required – includes lunch, parking and educational materials) is $35 for members, $42 nonmembers.

Join David Sobel, professor atAntioch University,New Hampshire, as he shares the solid foundation of data that suggests that environmental and place-based education can improve test scores, change teacher behavior, improve school climate, increase stewardship behavior and yes, even improve environmental quality. The morning will continue with a panel discussion led by the Case Western ReserveUniversitySchubertCenterfor Child Development and an exploration of the Hershey Children’s Garden. The afternoon workshop “Applying the Small Worlds Principle in Curriculum Development” will help guide teachers in applying these principles in their classrooms. The morning symposium is free and open to the public (registration is required, parking not included, David Sobel’s book for first 150 registrants).

Learn How to Play in Nature, 9 a.m. to noon, June 26-Aug. 10

Hands-on activity sessions for educators and parents at Holden Arboretum and the Cleveland Botanical Gardens. $15 members, $20 nonmembers per session.

Play on Land – Friday, June 28 or Saturday, June 29 – Holden

Play in Water – Friday, July 26 or Saturday, July 27 – Holden

Play in the Garden – Friday, Aug. 9 or Saturday, Aug. 10 – CBG

Learn about the benefits of outdoor play, how kids interact with their surroundings and how you can facilitate and encourage these activities in your own space or those you visit. Experience these activities first hand. Take one session or sign up for all three to increase your repertoire of fun-filled outdoor activities to share. These adults-only workshops will have you thinking and playing like a kid again!

To register for events at The Holden Arboretum or the lecture at Andrews Osborne Academy, visit or contact Vonna at 440.602.3833 or

To register for events at Cleveland Botanical Garden, visit or contact Jen or Amanda at 216.721.1600 ext. 100 or

Visit for more information on these events.