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The University of Tennessee, Knoxville

Dirt Don’t Hurt!

Dawn P. Coe, Assistant ProfessorCollege of Education, Health and Human Sciences - Department of Kinesiology, Recreation, and Sport Studies

Physical activity guidelines recommend that young children participate in at least sixty minutes and up to several hours of developmentally appropriate physical activity each day. During early childhood, children begin spending a significant portion of time at daycare and preschool settings, which presents a key opportunity for young children to engage in activity through unstructured play on a playground. Traditional playgrounds utilize set structures (i.e., swings, monkey bars) and sport-related areas (i.e., tracks, fields) to provide children with different activity options. New trends have emerged that incorporate natural elements (i.e., boulders, trees stumps, and logs) into outdoor play environments – commonly known as natural playgrounds. Natural playgrounds also include recycled materials (i.e., ropes, tires) into areas where children can create a variety of play scenarios. This presentation will provide an overview of outdoor play and natural playgrounds as well as the current research our laboratory is conducting in this area.​

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