Outdoor Learning Environments

The Wildflower Center has partnered with the Texas Department of State Health Services, Texas Children in Nature, Natural Learning Initiative, United Way, and others to support OLE! Texas, an initiative to build nature into childhood education through outdoor learning environments. The OLE! project helps promote the health and fitness of young people by engaging them in activities outside of traditional classrooms or care facilities.

At the state level, Center designers have helped develop a practitioner’s guide for daycares interested in transforming typical playgrounds into areas that emphasize nature play; locally, we are working on a pilot project at Austin Community College Children’s Lab School, which offers year-round child care to ACC students, staff and faculty and serves as demonstration school for ACC’s Child Development Department.

Outdoor learning environments help young people foster a deeper understanding of human dependency on the natural world, and they’ve been shown to positivity effect children’s behavior, resulting in fewer altercations and better integration of children with different abilities.

The hope is to grow outdoor learning environments throughout all schools in Texas, but underserved communities are extremely important because of the lack of resources provided to those children, and outdoor learning environments can make a huge difference in such situations.


Visit the Luci and Ian Family Garden
Our Work on Triumphant Love Lutheran Church’s Child Development Center
More on Nature Play From Wildflower Magazine
Sprouts (Nature Play for Preschoolers) at the Wildflower Center



Discover the Native Plants of North America