Children’s Play and Physical Activity in Traditional and Forest (Natural) Playgrounds

Gregor Torkar, Aljoša Rejc


APA 6th edition
Torkar, G., & Rejc, A. (2017). Children’s Play and Physical Activity in Traditional and Forest (Natural) Playgrounds. IJEM - International Journal of Educational Methodology, 3(1), 25 - 30. doi:10.12973/ijem.3.1.25

Harvard
Torkar G., and Rejc A. 2017 'Children’s Play and Physical Activity in Traditional and Forest (Natural) Playgrounds', IJEM - International Journal of Educational Methodology , vol. 3, no. 1, pp. 25 - 30. Available from: http://dx.doi.org/10.12973/ijem.3.1.25

Chicago 16th edition
Torkar, Gregor and Rejc, Aljoša . "Children’s Play and Physical Activity in Traditional and Forest (Natural) Playgrounds". (2017)IJEM - International Journal of Educational Methodology 3, no. 1(2017): 25 - 30. doi:10.12973/ijem.3.1.25

Abstract

Early childhood is a crucial period for the physical and cognitive development of children. A child's exposure to nature is proven to be beneficial in this period of human life. The aim of the present research was to investigate children’s play and physical activity on a traditional playground and on a forest (natural) playground. Twenty-five observations took place on the traditional playground, and twenty-five observations were recorded on the forest playground. Twenty-five participating preschool children were observed in both playgrounds, but not necessarily in the same order. Research findings confirmed important qualities of natural playgrounds that provide children with a wide range of playing and learning opportunities not available on other playgrounds. Children were playing more with different natural materials in the forest playground and they more frequently played different chasing games and hide and seek in the forest playground. Participating children were also more physically active on the forest playground, and boys were more active on the forest playground than girls. The research concludes that it is important for preschool teachers to use natural playgrounds frequently and with regularity. Research design in this article is also an example of how GPS trackers can be beneficial for educational research.

Keywords: Early childhood, playground, forest, play, physical activity, children


References

Bohn-Goldbaum, E. E., Phongsavan, P., Merom, D., Rogers, K., Kamlesh, V., & Bauman, A., (2013). Does playground improvement increase physical activity among children? A quasi-experimental study of a natural experiment. Journal of Environmental and Public Health, 1 - 9.

Boldermann, C., Blennow, M., Dal, H., Martensson, F., Raustorp, A., Yuen, K., & Wester, U. (2006). Impact of preschool environment upon children’s physical activity and sun exposure. Preventative Medicine, 42(4), 310–308.

Ernst, J. (2013). Early childhood educators’ use of natural outdoor settings as learning environments: an exploratory study of beliefs, practices, and barriers. Environmental Education Research, 20(6), 735–752.

Fjørtoft, I. (2001). The natural environment as a playground for children: The impact of outdoor play activities in pre-primary school children. Early Childhood Education Journal, 29(2), 111–117.

Fjørtoft, I. (2004). Landscape as playscape: The effects of natural environments on children´s play and motor development. Children, Youth and Environments, 14(2), 21–44.

Fjørtoft, I., & Sageie, J. (2000). The natural environment as a playground for children. Landscape description and analyses of a natural playscape. Landscape and Urban Planning, 48(1–2), 83–97.

Frost, J. L. (1992). Play and playscapes. New York, NY: Delmar.

Hadzigeorgiou, Y. (2002). A study of the development of the concept of mechanical stability in preschool children. Research in Science Education, 32(3), 373-391.

Holmes, R. M., & Procaccino, J. K. (2009). Preschool children’s outdoor play area preferences. Early Child Development and Care, 179(8), 1103–1112.

Kos, M., & Jerman, J. (2013). Provisions for outdoor play and learning in Slovene preschools. Journal of Adventure Education and Outdoor Learning, 13(3), 189–205.

Louv, R. (2005). Last Child in the Woods. New York City, NY: Algonquin Books.

Luchs, A. & Fikus, M. (2013). A comparative study of active play on differently designed playgrounds. Journal of Adventure Education and Outdoor Learning, 13(3), 206–222.

Smilansky, S. & Shefatya, L. (1990). Sociodramatic play: Its relevance to behavior and achievement in school. In E. Klugman & S. Smilansky (Eds.), Children’s play and learning: Perspectives and policy implications (pp. 18-42). New York: Teachers College Press.

Waller, T., Sandseter, E. B., Wyver, S., Ärlemalm-Hagser, E., & Maynard, T. (2010). The dynamics of early childhood spaces: Opportunities for outdoor play? European Early Childhood Education Research Journal, 18(4), 437–443.