Why is outdoor nature play so powerful? For one thing, it offers a multisensory smorgasbord of seeing, hearing, smelling, touching, and tasting, immersing children in a much grander world than can ever be captured indoors, even on a computer screen. For another, natural playspaces tend to be complex, with a much greater variety of unspecified props (rocks, sticks, mud, plants, etc.) than indoor counterparts, so they stimulate more creativity and imagination. Then there’s that all-important sense of wildness, complete with birds, insects, and various creepy-crawlies, as well as the potential to create special places away from prying adult eyes.
– Scott Sampson, “In Defense of Wildness,” The Whirlpool of Life (September 1, 2012)