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For more than ten years, in a forest on northern Wisconsin's Bayfield Peninsula, A Natural Branch of Learning (ANBL) has been an example of how to create sustainable and unusual outdoor play and learning programs for children. ANBL's outdoor play sites and trails are nestled into the forest's sheltering branches where they pop up along trails, connecting like beads on a necklace. These play sites are constructed from flexible tree limbs, utilizing sturdy tree trunks and nearby rocks. Site ideas have been inspired by large and small icons of beauty in nature, found iron, clay, and metal artifacts, children's literature, and from watching children play.

The trails which connect ANBL play sites weave through the forest, up hills and down into ravines, through a small rock quarry, around a small pond, along the edge of a cedar swamp, over streams, and by a bear den. The beauty of the north woods is always under foot, overhead, and wrapping around playing, running, imaginatively engaged, and energized children. Sites provide diverse play options that attract children of different ages, varied abilities, diverse developmental levels, particular needs, and special interests.

Adele Diamond, developmental cognitive neuroscientist, contends that children who spend more time engaging in imaginary play benefit in the following ways: listening and putting oneself in another's shoes; controlling impulses, self-regulating emotions and actions, and staying focused on the matter at hand; thinking out of the box and solving problems; and holding information in mind in ways that increase working memory. Playing imaginatively outdoors also involves a lot of movement, thereby leading to healthy development of children's minds and bodies!