‘When are we going again?’ Investigating children’s responses to a new nature playspace at an environmental education centre

Elliott, Sue, Rizk, Nadya, Taylor, Subhashni, Kennelly, Julie, and McKenzie, Matt (2018) ‘When are we going again?’ Investigating children’s responses to a new nature playspace at an environmental education centre. Curriculum Perspectives, 38 (2). pp. 157-162.

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Nature play programs, mostly instigated by early childhood education services, are rapidly expanding across Australia drawing on various international approaches to create uniquely Australian programs. But, as yet Australian research to support this expansion is at best emergent (Christiansen et al. 2018). Through collaboration between a NSW Environmental Education Centre (EEC), nearby preschool/school communities and university researchers a new nature playspace was developed. The participating regional EEC mostly offered environmental education programs for primary school-aged groups and a nature playspace was proposed to align with learning approaches, particularly for younger groups of children aged 3–8 years. The playspace was created in open eucalypt woodland with a grass understorey and locally-sourced natural materials were added including rocks, logs, bones and soil to create play areas such as a dirt hill, balancing logs and a bone sandpit. Our research aim was to explore both children’s and teacher’s perceptions about the nature play affordances in the new playspace, however only children’s responses are reported here. The research was underpinned by Gibson’s theory of affordance (1986), the United Nations Convention of the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) (UNICEF 1989) and a social constructionist epistemology (Guba and Lincoln 2005). Further, Mosaic methodology (Clark and Moss 2001) facilitated data collection both with and by children through walking interviews, focus groups and photography which prioritised their voices. Both preschool and early year’s school groups played on-site weekly over six-weeks and an on-site EEC teacher as Research Assistant (RA/EEC teacher) recorded in a research field journal throughout. This article outlines child-focused research insights that may shape the development of nature playspaces and programs.

Item ID: 58928
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 0159-7868
Copyright Information: © Australian Curriculum Studies Association 2018
Date Deposited: 25 Jul 2019 01:06
FoR Codes: 39 EDUCATION > 3903 Education systems > 390302 Early childhood education @ 100%
SEO Codes: 93 EDUCATION AND TRAINING > 9301 Learner and Learning > 930102 Learner and Learning Processes @ 50%
93 EDUCATION AND TRAINING > 9302 Teaching and Instruction > 930201 Pedagogy @ 50%
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