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Growing Children in Nature

Natural Play Spaces in Westport, Connecticut

Earthplace is an environmental learning center whose mission is to build passion & respect for nature.  Hike on the trails, hunt for Letterboxes and explore the wonderful playground.  Drop-in educational programs happen every day.

Leonard Schine Preserve & Children's Natural Playground is an award-winning outdoor playground along a Family Nature Trail that is part of the Aspetuck Land Trust.  There are areas for fort building, digging, tea-parties, tower-climbing, trail-walking, stick-stacking, nature collages and more!

Westport's Town Parks have family-friendly walking trails, playgrounds and wild areas.

Sherwood Island State Park, on the shore of Long Island Sound, covers 234 acres of beach, wetlands and woodlands.  Come to walk, bike, swim, fish, observe wildlife, fly kites & model airplanes, play volleyball, picnic or relax under the trees.

Borrow an Outdoor Backpack for Your Next Family Hike


Westport Library has two child-sized backpacks available to borrow for exploring the outdooors.  The contents of the backpacks include:

  • 5 pocket field guides
  • The Kids' Guide to Exploring Nature by the Children's Education Staff at Brooklyn Botanic Garden)
  • One pair of binoculars in a case
  • One compass
  • One magnifying glass
  • Three laminated maps of great walking trails in Westport

Ask a Children's Librarian for more information!



Excerpt from Last Child in the Woods, by Richard Louv


One evening when my boys were younger, Matthew, then ten, looked at me from across a restaurant table and said quite seriously, "Dad, how come it was more fun when you were a kid?"

I asked what he meant.

"Well, you’re always talking about your woods and tree houses, and how you used to ride that horse down near the swamp."

At first, I thought he was irritated with me. I had, in fact, been telling him what it was like to use string and pieces of liver to catch crawdads in a creek, something I’d be hard-pressed to find a child doing these days. Like many parents, I do tend to romanticize my own childhood—and, I fear, too readily discount my children’s experiences of play and adventure. But my son was serious; he felt he had missed out on something important.  (Continue reading from Last Child in the Woods.)

Great Books for Parents
Link to  Born to be wild : hundreds of free nature activities for families by Hattie Garlick
Link to  The delightful horror of family birding : sharing nature with the next generation by Eli J. Knapp
Finding Ecohappiness: Finding Ecohappiness: Fun Nature Activities to Help Your Kids Feel Happier and Calmer by Sandi Schwartz in the catalog
Link to  Grow wild : the whole-child, whole-family, nature-rich guide to moving more by Katy Bowman
Link to How to raise a wild child : the art and science of falling in love with nature by Scott D. Sampson
Link to  Last child in the woods : saving our children from nature-deficit disorder by Richard Louv
Link to Ollie and Harry's marvelous adventures by Ollie Ferguson
Link to Outdoor kids in an inside world : getting your family out of the house and radically engaged with nature by Steven Rinella
Link to  The outdoor scientist : the wonder of observing the natural world by Temple Grandin in the catalog
Link to Vitamin N : the essential guide to a nature-rich life by Richard Louv  in the catalog