Publications

Preschool Outdoor Toolkit

Natural Learning Initiative

The Best Practice Implementation Toolkit is a guide for implementing POD (Preventing Obesity by Design), launched in 2006 by the Natural Learning Initiative. The original focus, to modify the built environment to support physical activity and healthy eating, was gradually expanded, driven by scientific evidence and community concern, to include outdoor learning, social-emotional development, and mental health. POD is based on the North Carolina Division of Child Development and Early Learning (NC-DCDEE) policy to transform each childcare center “playground” into a health-promoting, naturalized Outdoor Learning Environment or childhood habitat—children, plants, and animals living together naturally. The vision, implemented in 2007, expanded the function of childcare facility outdoor spaces to become places for holistic child development.

01 IMPLEMENTING THE VISION

Background
The POD Strategy
Renovation Focus
Collaborative Implementation Strategy
Participatory Design Process
References

02 BEST PRACTICE INDICATORS

Introduction
Best Practice Indicators Illustrated
Best Practice Indicators as Incremental Development Guide

03 MANAGING INCREMENTAL DEVELOPMENT

Managing, Maintaining, Sustaining
Playing and Learning Ecosystems
Nature and Much More
Incremental Development
Physical Intervention Steps
Sun Exposure, Soil Quality, and Surface Drainage— Three Keys to Success
Designing for Varied Sun Exposure
Improving Soil Quality
Fallen Leaves – A Play and Learning Resource!
Improving Surface Drainage
Managing Plants
Trees: Large, Medium, & Small
Shrubs: Large, Medium, & Small
Planting Trees and Shrubs
Pruning Trees and Shrubs
Managing Vines on Fences, Arbors, Pergolas, and Lattices
In Praise of Groundcovers
Perennial Flowering Plants
Ornamental Grasses
Annual Flowering Plants
Weeds and Other Invasive Plants
Intentional Multi-purpose Lawns
Lawn Care
Protecting Plants From Impact
Edible Landscape
Vegetable Gardening
Veggies Year Round
Composting
Vermicomposting
Tools
Fertilizers, Pesticides, & Herbicides
Resources

04 BALANCING RISKS WITH BENEFITS

Introduction
Outdoor Play in Nature is Essential for Healthy Child Development
Steps Towards a Risk Management Approach
Hazard, Risk, and Injuries
Developing a Risk Management Protocol
References

05 COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT AND FUNDRAISING

Community Engagement Is The Key To Successful Fundraising
Creating an Implementation Support Team
Community Engagement Processes
Community Fundraising
Building Relationships
Applying A Fundraising Mindset
Fundraising Strategies
Fundraising Online
Using Websites and Social Media
Closing Thoughts
Sources Consulted

GLOSSARY

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES