Natural Playgrounds:
Focus on "Risky Play" and Compliance.


What is Risky Play?

Assessing and taking risks through play is required for optimal child development . Research shows time spent in nature, coupled with outdoor risky play, are key to encouraging resilience, emotional and physical health, and creative thinking in children. This workshop will focus on the definition of risky play and why it’s important and understand the difference between risk benefits versus the hazards.

Compliance and Natural Playgrounds:

Throughout the design process, we use sensory provocations to increase children’s cognitive engagement while reducing hospital visits and exceeding all accessibility and playground standards. With 3000 projects in the ground and over 20 years of experience and research, we know that:

  • Catastrophic injuries are 30-40% times lower on natural features compared to plastic post and platform playgrounds.
  • Natural play spaces provide challenging environments for children of all ages and sizes, where they learn important risk evaluation skills more effectively (and safely) than on traditional playgrounds.
  • Vandalism, aggressive behaviour, and bullying rates are all reduced in direct proportion to the amount of tree canopy and contact with nature in a play space. The more contact, the greater the benefit.

Adam Bienenstock


Adam is an internationally acclaimed designer, builder, and researcher of nature- based play spaces, and the founder of Bienenstock Natural Playgrounds.

Throughout the years working on many papers and publications including “What is the Relationship between Risky Outdoor Play and Health in Children?” – A Systematic Review in 2015.

Adam has traveled globally to advocate for children’s rights and nature play and to design spectacular natural parks and playgrounds. His bold, charismatic personality sets the tone for the entire company.  

His comprehensive experience in design, advocacy, education, research and construction make Adam one of the most thoroughly-seasoned veterans in the nature play industry.

Adam has collaborated on the development of city-wide Nature Play Standards. Developed and delivered hands-on nature play training across all city departments, including Chicago, IL, San Francisco, CA, Dayton, OH, Austin, TX and Denver, CO.

Documents to Get Started

2021 LookBook for Landscape Architects

Our full-service approach to natural playground components has established Nature’s Instruments as a trusted partner of landscape architects across North America.

Click to Download PDF

Nature's Instruments Component Catalogue

Nature's Instruments provides an authentic connection to nature for your playground, Using all natural components. Our goal is to make it easy for everyone to have a natural playground at their park, school, child care facility or backyard.

Click to Download PDF

Portfolio Items of Interest

Rio Grande Farm Park

Rio Grande Farm Park

Alamosa, Colorado

The Rio Grande playground features a custom Log JamPlay System, a birds nest, pull-up bars, and beams.

A sand area that is flagged by a unique border that includes boulders, vertical and horizontal logs.

 A boulder concrete spillway that offers water play opportunities which uses a hand pump to distribute water.

The playground also has a slide built into the grading, a log post zip line system sunken into the grade with rolled edge.  

For the quiet contemplative type there is a boulder seating area tucked into a grove of trees and large wacky posts.

More Playground Images

First Creek

Denver, Colorado

First Creek is the first of its kind natural play area is a fully accessible and fully sensory space that seamlessly integrates the stream and forest with innovative landform and natural play features.  

The project was designed and built in collaboration with Valerian Landscape Architects, Naranjo Contracting, DenverUrban Drainage, and Denver Parks Department. 

Forest play trails, natural amphitheaters, sideways tree and boulder climbers, rope play, furniture and ecological restoration line the winding accessible trails that link to the Denver master trails plan.

First Creek

More Playground Images

Mountainview Centre for Innovative Learning

Mountainview Centre for Innovative Learning

Welland, Ontario

The Mountainview Centre for Innovative Learning marked Bienenstock Natural Playgrounds’ second project with Pathstone Mental Health facilities and followed up on the success of our 2019 design and install at Pathstone St. Catharines. 

Pathstone Mental Health was hoping to convert their naturalized, water-logged back lot into an accessible, refined organic development experience for children with areas designated for gross motor play, quiet contemplative play, creative play, fine motor development and an outdoor classroom.

More Playground Images

Municipal Team Engagement: The Practical & the Paradigm