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Playful Pedagogy

Playful Pedagogy

Playful Pedagogy

About Us

Playful Pedagogy, part of the North Carolina Zoo’s Conservation, Education, and Science Division, functions as an umbrella for the Zoo’s play programs. For over four years, playwork has been an integral part of Kidzone, the Zoo’s outdoor playspace that connects children with nature through play. Children, who have a natural affinity for nature, are losing their connection with it. They no longer possess a sense of place which has consequences for the future of our environment. By connecting children with nature through play, we have a greater chance of affecting change in future adult consumers. In turn, play provides a much wider range of benefits. 


Why Play

Play is an ideal vehicle for establishing a relationship with nature. Initially, play provides a distraction to less desirable variables such as heat, cold and creepy crawlies. Once children have overcome those variables, their comfort in the natural world opens doors to an awareness of and interest in the natural world. This interest leads to questions and observations that provide a foundation for learning in and beyond the play environment.

Additionally, play provides children with the potential to develop cognitively, socially, emotionally, and physically in ways that television and electronic game systems cannot provide. Through the unique characteristics of play - unpredictability, novelty, flexibility and imagination - children have the ability to thrive and shape their world. Playing connects children to the world around them, creating a sense of place and self which contributes to their well being.

Playing Out


Playful Pedagogy offers professional development opportunities for practitioners working in children’s learning and play environments.  Our playwork* trainings explore the importance of play in children’s lives and the art and science of supporting children’s play. Through classroom instruction, informal discussions and outdoor activities, workshop participants investigate the adult’s role in the play process. Best practices for supporting play, creating plenty of physical and mental space for play and creative approaches to planning for play outside are only a few of the topics covered.  

To discuss the possibility of a Playful Pedagogy seminar or workshop at your facility, email.


What is Playwork?

Playwork is a skilled profession that is rooted in the belief that play is of immense benefit and supports freely chosen play. Playwork follows a set of principles that guide playworkers' responses to playing children and young people and takes into consideration the spaces created for play, the resources within those spaces and advocates for children to play in their own way, controlling the content and intent of their play.


Advocate for Play

Playful Pedagogy advocates for the importance of playing outdoors in the everyday experiences of children and their families through training, civic engagements and Kidzone. We provide and support programs that give communities the inspiration to encourage, enrich and support playing out for all. Developing a society that supports play in outdoor environments promotes the importance of play for all children and young people and campaigns to create increased play opportunities locally, initiating a greater sense of connection to the natural world, to each other and their community. Join our mailing list by emailing Linda Kinney.


Communities at Play

Playful Pedagogy invites you to host a Nature Play Day in your local community. Take advantage of our resource packet to organize and plan your event

Want help? Let us bring play to your park. If you are a park, school or community group looking to add playful activities to your event, email us to host your Nature Play Day.