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early childhood playground forest play physical activity children

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

Gregor Torkar , Aljosa Rejc

Early childhood is a crucial period for the physical and cognitive development of children. A child's exposure to nature is proven to be beneficia.


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

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