Playful green planet - The RSA - RSA

Playful green planet

Playful Green Planet

Cultivating children’s climate action and social activism

Radically reconnecting children to nature, creativity and community.

Playful green planet is an ambitious intervention to transform how primary schools and early years settings foster a connection to nature and community through creativity.

In partnership with the Eden Project, Bath Spa University, House of Imagination and HundrED, we’re seeking funding partners to help us realise this bold new vision for whole-school and whole-place settings.

Early childhood educators observed improved socialisation, problem-solving, focus, self-regulation, creativity and self-confidence, and reduced stress, boredom and injury. Outdoor play spaces are important for promoting children's wellbeing and development.

Landscapes for play: Effects of an intervention to promote nature-based risky play in early childhood centres, 2017 Brussoni, Ishikawa, Brunelle, Herrington
Playful green planet - Design for Life - The RSA

Green and playful learning

A solid, growing evidence base shows nature-immersed play brings huge benefits to early childhood development, wellbeing and understanding, and respecting our connection and interdependence with nature and the environment.

There are three pillars of children’s development into citizens that Playful green planet will help support:

1. Nature connection

There is a crisis of children’s connection to nature, especially in cities and towns. This is further influenced by factors including race, disability and socioeconomic status. Here are some telling statistics:

  • Four out of five children lack a connection to nature, according to the UK's RSPB.
  • Less than 10 percent of UK children have access to play in wild spaces compared to 50 percent a generation ago, and only 10 percent have outdoor learning access.
  • One survey found that 75 percent of children spend less time outdoors than prison inmates.

2. Community connection

Establishing community connections has a positive effect on wider learning environments, improving school attendance and even reducing exclusions.

3. Creative opportunities

We also know that creative opportunities for many children are under threat.

  • In secondary education, enrolment in arts GCSEs has fallen by fallen by 40 percent since 2010, while the number of arts teachers has fallen by 23 percent.
  • 68 percent of primary teachers have said there is less arts education now than there was in 2010, with 49 percent of them saying the quality of that learning has fallen, according to the National Society for Education in Art & Design (NSEAD)’s Primary Colours research
  • This decline is most severe for state schools in deprived areas, where children are far less likely to sing in a choir or play in an orchestra. But, just as with nature, we know that creative opportunities in early childhood foster wellbeing and social connection, and set pupils on the path for future flourishing.
Playful green planet - Design for Life - The RSA

Greener vision for education

Playful green planet will design and deliver place-based activities that encourage learning through play and access to nature. Global in its long-term ambition, we will pilot this work in the UK, creating curricula, learning tools, and access to nature sites to support early years settings, using the opportunities in the natural world to support future change agents.

Working with children, families, educators and communities we will co-design and co-create biodiverse habitats for play – mini-Edens and ‘forests of imagination’ – in primary schools and early years settings, catalysing innovative activity programmes, teacher training and whole-school culture change.

Our Playful green planet partners have extensive experience delivering transformative interventions for younger children’s life outcomes through connection to nature, development of creativity, and social action in the local community. We’re excited to be collaborating on a radical new vision for education and whole school growth and change.

Help Playful green planet flourish

Are you a Fellow? Join the Playful green planet Circle community. Help us create nature-based learning for young children in urban areas that build connections with nature and community.

Get involved today

Join the Playful Green Planet community.

Playful green planet related content

  • Inspired by nature


    Rebecca Ford Alessandra Tombazzi Penny Hay

    Our Playful green planet team summarises a ‘lunch and learn’ at RSA House that focused on how the influence of nature can benefit a child’s development.

  • What are educators’ experiences supporting youth social action?


    Hannah Breeze

    We asked 2,000 primary educators to share their attitudes, motivations and the potential benefits of delivering youth social action in the classroom.