The influence of the outdoor environment: den-making in three different contexts

Canning, Natalie (2010). The influence of the outdoor environment: den-making in three different contexts. European Early Childhood Education Research Journal, 18(4) pp. 555–566.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/1350293X.2010.525961

Abstract

This small-scale research examined den-making in three different settings in the UK. The research consisted of non-participant, narrative observations of children aged between 3- and 5-years and early years practitioners involved in supporting them in their play. Content analysis revealed common themes: the impact of the environment on the way children utilised their play space, how the resources in an outdoor environment provided opportunities for children to generate and sustain their imagination and creativity, and how relationships with other children and early years practitioners were facilitated through the outdoor environment. The settings were diverse, an urban private day nursery with a courtyard outside space where appropriate materials were sourced from outside the setting for children to use, a rural private day nursery with its own woodland area and a childminder accessing a public woodland near her home. The research was based in England and therefore considered the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) and in particular the principle 'enabling environments'. The research concluded that successful outdoor play offers flexible opportunities where children engage in imaginative and creative play, develop their communication skills and build relationships with other children and adults. outdoor environment. The settings were diverse, an urban private day nursery with a courtyard outside space where appropriate materials were sourced from outside the setting for children to use, a rural private day nursery with its own woodland area and a childminder accessing a public woodland near her home. The research was based in England and therefore considered the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) and in particular the principle ‘enabling environments’. The research concluded that successful outdoor play offers flexible opportunities where children engage in imaginative and creative play, develop their communication skills and build relationships with other children and adults.

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