Rusty Keeler on Risky Play and Natural Playscape Design

In this interview, we discuss the concept of risky play and the benefits for the children. Rusty explains how practitioners and educators can expand their own comfort zones and the role that the environment plays in this.

Of course, as a natural playscape designer, we also discuss the elements of good design, whatever the size or location of your setting, and what inspires Rusty's own designs. Rusty shares the benefits of risky play, tips for educators to say "yes" more, and practical ideas to create natural Playscapes so children can thrive through the wonder of play.
· April 19, 2024

From Tasmania to Texas, Rusty Keeler has spent the last 30 years travelling the world designing and advocating for children’s play. Described as a cross between Mr Rogers and Jerry Garcia, Rusty is a frequent keynote speaker and author of multiple books on play including the recent Adventures in Risky Play: What is Your Yes?

A pioneer in the movement to connect children to nature through play, Rusty lives with his family beside a creek in Ithaca, NY with a backyard full of fruit trees, treehouses, straw bales, tires, tennis balls, hoola hoops, bubbles, and more.

Rusty is the current vice president of the USA chapter of the International Play Association.

In this session Rusty shares fascinating insights on why risky play is crucial for child development and how to design natural playscapes that encourage exploration. Discover the surprising benefits of letting children take risks and get hands-on tips for transforming any outdoor space into an engaging natural play area.

In the interview you’ll:

  • Learn what “risky play” really means and why it’s essential for building confidence and resilience
  • Find out the unexpected role chickens can play in creating a stimulating playscape
  • Get budget-friendly ideas for adding loose parts and natural elements to your outdoor space
  • Discover how to work with your community to source materials like logs and boulders
  • Hear how to get parents on board with a riskier, messier play approach

If you want to create an outdoor environment that celebrates nature and supports children’s right to play, you won’t want to miss Rusty’s inspiring advice in this interview.

This episode was originally broadcast on 16th of April, 2021.

Episode Links:

Free downloadable Loose Parts Guide:

This amazing guide has everything you need to know, use and set up Loose Parts play outdoors. An incredible FREE resource – thank you Rusty!

Find Rusty’s books and range of resources here:

On Facebook here:



Find out more about London’s Adventure playgrounds here:

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Episode Includes

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