Outdoor activities, particularly free, unstructured play, benefit children’s development. They increase self-esteem, decrease symptoms associated with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, contribute to emotional growth, and combat childhood obesity. For young children these experiences are important because 85% of the brain develops between ages 3 and 5. Scientific research ties nature play to cognitive skills, such as executive function and self-regulation. This session will share stories of how four different public gardens, the Atlanta Botanical Garden, the Chicago Botanic Garden, Green Spring Gardens, and the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, have created spaces and programs for young children that are developmentally appropriate and grow and sustain audiences.

Presenters: E. Prendergast, Chicago Botanic Garden, Glencoe, Illinois; T.
McClendon, Atlanta Botanical Garden, Atlanta, Georgia; A. Fry, Lady Bird
Johnson Wildflower Center, Austin, Texas; S. Eggerton, Green Spring Gardens,
Alexandria, Virginia