Pesis, Breanne Megan
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Children gain numerous benefits from interacting with the natural environment including increased focus, dexterity, and problem-solving skills. In recent decades, however, a loss of interaction with nature has separated children from this vital human experience. This thesis looks at the suburban American schoolyard as a potential realm for increasing childhood contact with nature and fostering healthy human-nature relationships. Utilizing educational models from around the world the intersection of environmental education, landscape architecture, and child development is explored. The history of the American relationship with nature and playground design is also reviewed. Overlaying this information provides rationale for creating outdoor classrooms, natural playscapes, and naturescapes. Finally, elements for a successful natural schoolyard are provided and applied conceptually through the use of opportunities and constraints maps to Merion Elementary School in a suburb of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.