Texas Tech University

Best Practice Indicators

The 12 best practice indicators are developed by the Natural Learning Initiative at North Carolina State University. The indicators are organized into Best Practice Indicator Posters by the TTU Coalition for Natural Learning (CNL). You can download the CNL posters by clicking on Best Practice Indicator Posters.

The best practice indicators for a Model Outdoor Learning Environment are used to assess the quality of the childcare center outdoor learning environment (OLE). The 12 key indicators listed below assess best practice environmental qualities and components. They work together to demonstrate the potential for excellence in using the OLE to improve and sustain children's health and well-being through active play and gardening activities.

  1. There are 10 or more play and learning settings.
  2. There is a looping, curvy, primary pathway for circulation and wheeled-toy use.
  3. There is a grassy area for games, activities, and events for 25 or more children.
  4. There are sufficient shade structures in addition to trees.
  5. There is a variety of natural, loose materials present and accessible for children to play with them.
  6. There are sufficient, different types of wheeled toys, portable play equipment, and play materials accessible for children to play with them.
  7. There are sufficient gross motor activities supported by the OLE.
  8. There are sufficient trees.
  9. There is a proportion of trees that are edible fruiting species.
  10. There are sufficient shrubs (including fruiting shrubs and vines).
  11. There is a designated vegetable garden with sufficient produce for snacking and/or meals.
  12. There is an outdoor classroom/program base/storage available.
Moore, R. & Cosco, N. (2014). Best Practice Indicators. Outdoor Learning Environment Toolkit, 1.

Texas Tech Coalition for Natural Learning

  • Address

    College of Human Sciences, Texas Tech University, P.O. Box 41162, Lubbock, TX 79409-1162
  • Phone

    (806) 742-3031
  • Email