The SAGE Handbook of Outdoor Play and Learning


Tim Waller, Eva Ärlemalm-Hagsér, Ellen Beate Hansen Sandseter, Libby Lee-Hammond, Kristi Lekies & Shirley Wyver

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    Part II: CRITICAL REFLECTIONS ON POLICY AND REGULATION (Editor – Ellen Beate Hansen Sandseter)





  • Copyright


    In memory of our friend and colleague Zişan Güner Alpaslan

    List of Figures

    Notes on the Editors and Contributors

    The Editors

    Tim Waller is Emeritus Professor of Child and Family Studies in the Faculty of Health, Social Care and Education at Anglia Ruskin University. Tim is a Convener of the Outdoor Play and Learning SIG in the European Early Childhood Education Research Association (EECERA). He worked in higher education for over twenty years and previously taught in nursery, infant and primary schools in London. His research interests include wellbeing, outdoor learning, pedagogy and social justice in early childhood. Tim is currently coordinator of the Young Children, Public Spaces and Democracy project (BRIC), funded by the EU from 2014–17. BRIC involves young children, preschool teachers and families engaging in public spaces in their communities in Italy, Sweden and England. From 2012–14 Tim led the UK research contributing to the SUPREME project (Suicide Prevention by Internet and Media Based Mental Health Promotion), aimed at developing an internet-based mental health promotion and suicide prevention programme, targeting young people aged 14–24 and was also previously Co-Director of the Longitudinal Evaluation of the Role and Impact of Early Years Professionals (in England) – commissioned by the Children's Workforce Development Council (2009–12).

    Eva Ärlemalm-Hagsér PhD has a background as a preschool teacher. She is employed as an Associate Professor within early childhood education at the School of Education, Culture and Communication (UKK), Mälardalen University, Sweden. Her research focus is on education for sustainability and children's participation and agency within policy and practices – indoors and outdoors. Since 2008, she has been convener of the Special Interest Group (SIG) Play and Learning within the European Early Childhood Education Research Association (EECERA).

    Ellen Beate Hansen Sandseter is a Professor (PhD) in the Department of Physical Education and Health at Queen Maud University College of Early Childhood Education in Trondheim, Norway. Her primary research focus is on children's physical play, outdoor play and risky/thrilling play among children in Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) institutions. Spaces and physical environments for children's play and activity is also one of her interest areas within research. She has been studying child accidents and injuries in Norwegian ECEC institutions as well as how the institutions work on safety and injury prevention, and done research on Norwegian children's experiences of participation and wellbeing in Norwegian ECEC institutions. Recently she has been involved in a project about ECEC teachers’ perceptions and practices around children's rough-and-tumble play.

    Libby Lee-Hammond obtained her PhD from Queensland University of Technology and is currently an Associate Professor in the School of Education at Murdoch University where she teaches early childhood curriculum and critical pedagogies. Her research over the past two decades has focussed on working alongside Australian Aboriginal communities, particularly with parents and young children in early years programs both within schools and in prior to school settings. Libby is committed to addressing social inequalities through education. She has served as an advisor to government on early years education policy and has taught internationally as a guest lecturer at Linneaus University, Sweden and Sami University of Applied Sciences, Norway.

    Kristi Lekies is an Associate Professor in the School of Environment and Natural Resources at The Ohio State University, USA where she is a member of the environmental social science and rural sociology specializations. Her research focuses on interactions with community and natural spaces in the early part of the life span, from early childhood through young adulthood. Her interests include community and place attachment, community gardens, outdoor experiences, and children's mobilities. Additionally, she leads an initiative to engage graduate and undergraduate students in environmental education, youth radio, and other community-based outreach activities.

    Shirley Wyver is a Senior Lecturer in child development at the Institute of Early Childhood, Macquarie University, Australia. Her research interests are in early play and cognitive/social development. She is a chief investigator on the Sydney Playground Project which examines use of loose parts play and risk reframing on school playgrounds. Shirley also conducts research in the area of blindness/low vision and development.

    The Contributors

    Zişan Güner Alpaslanwas a doctoral student in the Department of Elementary Education, Middle East Technical University, Turkey till she passed away in a tragic car accident in 2015. She was a brilliant young scholar. Her research focused on outdoor play, gender equity and early childhood mathematics and science education.

    Eva Änggård PhD is an Associate Professor at the Department of Child and Youth studies, Stockholm University. Her field of research concerns meaning-making processes in early childhood settings. In all her research, children's perspectives have been in focus. Research methods and materials giving children opportunities to express themselves in different ways have been used, i.e. walks with children, drawings and children's photographs. Over the past decade she has been working with two research projects on children who participate in outdoor education. The first project was carried out in a preschool and the second one in two primary schools. In the studied settings, a large part of the time was spent in nature environments and an important aim of the research was to study children's play and other activities in nature environments.

    David Ball is Professor of Risk Management and co-director of the Centre for Decision Analysis and Risk Management at Middlesex University, London. David has a DPhil in physics but, inter alia, has worked with the play community since 1986 and in particular has been an adviser to the UK's Play Safety Forum since its foundation in 1993. He has a broad-based experience of how risk is managed in different sectors which provides a platform for the review and assessment of strategies used within each sector and their appropriateness bearing in mind that sector's objectives.

    Amanda Bateman currently works at the University of Waikato, New Zealand as a Senior Lecturer in early childhood education. She has been Principal Investigator for funded and non-funded research projects including international teams to explore such issues as pedagogical intersubjectivity in the early years in New Zealand, the impact of the New Zealand Christchurch earthquakes on the children living there, and storytelling in the early years in New Zealand. She has published widely from these projects including the books Early Childhood Education: The Co-Production of Knowledge and Relationships, and Children's Knowledge-in-interaction: Studies in Conversation Analysis.

    Thomas Beery is an Assistant Professor with the University of Minnesota Sea Grant Program. He holds an EdD in Education. Tom's current work is coastal resilience education and research. Tom has broad experience in environmental and outdoor education, from adventure education settings to elementary classrooms. Tom's work in early childhood environmental education is focused on early childhood experiences of nature, and specifically, the study of sensory experience of place. Recent work in Sweden at the University of Kristianstad has allowed Tom the opportunity to consider Nordic ideas and programs in regard to early childhood nature experience and early childhood teacher training.

    Tim Bennett is an early years trained teacher based in the Waikato region of New Zealand. He has worked in various settings in New Zealand and England over the last 10 years and has a passion for nature based education and sustainability. In 2010, Tim and his colleagues began a nature based programme called Ngahere explorers which focused on allowing children to explore the unique bush settings of New Zealand through a bicultural lense. Tim also has a passion for innovative teaching practices and has been involved with several research projects in conjunction with the University of Waikato.

    Doris Bergen is Distinguished Professor of Educational Psychology Emerita at Miami University, Oxford, Ohio, and served as chair of the department for eleven years. A focus of much of her research has been on play theory and humor development, including effects of technology-enhanced toys on play, adult memories of childhood play, and gifted children's humor. Recent published research explored Event Related Potentials (ERP) that children's brains exhibit during two types of videogame play. She is a Miami University Distinguish Scholar, having published twelve books and over 60 refereed articles and book chapters. Her most recent books are Technology Play and Brain Development (2016) and Brain Research and Childhood Education (2017).

    Angeliki Bitou is a Nursery Nurse Manager at the Day Care Centre of OAED in Ioannina (Greece). She has held a PhD in Early Childhood since 2011 from the University of Wolverhampton in England (UK) and also has graduated with Master of Science in Childhood Studies from the University of Wales, Swansea in 2006. During her undergraduate and postgraduate studies she was a scholar of IKY (State Scholarship Foundation of Greece). She also worked for many years in Greece as an Early Years practitioner with children from 8 months until 6 years old. Her main research interest is in young children's participation, research with children and pedagogy.

    Marié Botha was a Lecturer in the Faculty of Education at the University of Pretoria, where she teaches early childhood studies and early mathematics modules. She holds a PhD in Education. Her research interests include early childhood education, professional teacher identity, early science and mathematics. She received the ‘Project Sustain: NUFO Grant’ for research in sustainable science and mathematical teaching.

    Jed Brensinger received his Masters degree from The Ohio State University specializing in environmental social science. While there, he studied the connections between childhood outdoor experiences, environmental concern, and connection to nature. He currently combines these interests with his background in psychology while working at a wilderness therapy program.

    Sara Brunelle graduated with a Master of Landscape Architecture degree from the University of British Columbia in May 2015. During her time at UBC, Sara was a research assistant at the Child and Family Research Institute and participated in a research study that examined the effects on children's behaviour and social interactions when access to nature and challenging play opportunities are increased in their outdoor play environments. She also helped conduct research into how the public perceives the safety of today's playgrounds and the role of memory. Sara is currently working as a landscape designer and continues to engage dialogue about the importance of play through design and pop-up play events.

    Mariana Brussoni is an Associate Professor in the Department of Pediatrics and the School of Population and Public Health at the University of British Columbia. She is a scientist with the British Columbia Children's Hospital Research Institute and the British Columbia Injury Research & Prevention Unit. Mariana is also a board member of the Child & Nature Alliance of Canada. Trained as a developmental psychologist, Mariana investigates child injury prevention, including the developmental importance of children's risky play. Current research focuses on the influence of geographic, cultural and social places on parenting related to risk and safety; the developmental importance of children's risky play; and the impact of injury on children's health-related quality of life.

    Anita Bundy has a joint appointment as Professor and Department Head in the Department of Occupational Therapy at Colorado State University and Professor of Occupational Therapy in the Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of Sydney. As an occupational therapist, Anita has particular interest in children's everyday activity and especially in play. She is probably best known for her tests of play. The Test of Playfulness (ToP) is an observational assessment in which play is defined as a transaction that is relatively intrinsically motivated, internally controlled, free of unnecessary constraints, and framed as play. The Test of Environmental Supportiveness (TOES) describes the supportiveness of the environment for helping children meet their motivations for play. For more than a decade, Anita has been involved with research examining the effectiveness of interventions to promote physical activity, social skills, play, resilience and coping in young typically developing children and children with disabilities. The interventions, described in Chapter 30, include risk reframing with adults and placing recycled materials on school playgrounds.

    Natalie Canning is a Senior Lecturer in Early Childhood at The Open University. Her background is in playwork and social work, supporting children to explore personal, social and emotional development through play. Her main research is centred on young children's play, especially how children are empowered in play. Using ethnographic and qualitative methods, she is particularly interested in children's play preferences and what influences those decisions. She has published within the field of professional development in early childhood, children's play, empowerment and creative spaces. She has taught across a variety of early childhood programmes and has edited several books on Early Childhood practice, including Young Children's Play and Creativity: Multiple Voices (2017), Implementing Quality Improvement and Change in the Early Years (2012), Play and Practice in the Early Years Foundation Stage (2011) and Reflective Practice in the Early Years (2010).

    Theresa Casey is an Independent Consultant and Author; President of the International Play Association: Promoting the Child's Right to Play (IPA), 2008–2017. Her key areas of interest are play, inclusion, children's rights and environments. As President of IPA she coordinated the development of the General Comment on article 31 (Committee on the Rights of the Child, 2013), a UN document guiding implementation of children's play rights; she leads on IPA's Access to Play in Crisis thematic work and on Children's Rights and the Environment linked to the UNCRC Day of General Discussion 2016. She drafted the Scottish Government's Play Strategy Action Plan and went on to co-chair the implementation group. Recent publications include: Under the Same Sky a toolkit on children's rights and the environment (IPA, 2016); Inclusive Play Space Guide – Championing better and more inclusive play spaces in Hong Kong (Playright Child's Play Association & UNICEF, 2016); Loose Parts Play (Inspiring Scotland, 2016).

    Yeshe Colliver is a Lecturer at the Institute of Early Childhood, Department of Educational Studies at Macquarie University, Sydney. As an educator with experience in diverse settings such as Lismore (Australia), Osaka (Japan), Ulsan (South Korea), Wakayama (Japan), Concepcion (Chile), Granada (Spain), and Honiara (Solomon Islands), he is particularly interested in cultural learning in early childhood. While the profound learning about one's culture seems intuitive, little research has sought to investigate exactly how it occurs. Chapter 31 documents some aspects of this learning in a remote part of the Pacific, Temotu. His current work seeks to demonstrate the potential of this learning as it occurs via observation, and has yielded encouraging preliminary results (Colliver & Arguel, 2016). His other work examines parents as mediators of cultural learning in museum contexts. Through continued investigations of incidental learning, he hopes to improve our understanding of natural learning so as to incorporate them into current educational paradigms.

    Georgianna Duarte is a Professor of Early Childhood Education and the A. Elwood and Juneth S. Adams Endowed Chair in the Department of Teaching and Learning at Indiana State University. She has a PhD in Early Childhood Education and has a history of over 30 years teaching a variety of ECE graduate courses in the United States. As a professor and researcher, she is actively involved in examining the perceptions of children and how they view their rights as defined by the Articles of the UN Rights of the Child. She is a committed and passionate member of the Association for Child Education International. She has been involved in Migrant Early Childhood issues for over 20 years, and strongly advocates for international ethics and cross-cultural collaboration. She has written in international journals, and recently led a group of educators in Peru and Nepal. She is actively engaged in International Education Diplomacy (ACEI), and these principles permeate her international work in Peru, Nigeria, Nepal, and the border of US/MX. Dr Duarte is committed to local issues of early childhood play, language, education and equity with migrant and immigrant populations. She is a relentless advocate for equity, respect and justice for young children and families as she continues her own professional journey of deeper cultural and linguistic understanding of our planet.

    David Eager is an internationally recognised expert on the safety aspects of children's playgrounds, trampolines, sports and recreation equipment, and amusement rides. He is an Associate Professor at UTS and teaches the graduate subject Risk Management in Engineering. He is a Fellow of Engineers Australia. He has a PhD in Engineering, 1st Class Honours Degree in Engineering; and Graduate Certificate in Dispute Resolution. He represents Australia on ISO/TC 83 Sports and recreational equipment. He also represents Australia on ISO/TC 254 Amusement rides and devices. He is the ISO expert on European Union Technical Committee CEN/TC 136 and its subcommittees. He is also the ISO liaison officer between ISO/TC 83 and ISO/TC 254. In the 70s and again in the 80s, David was a Green Beret within 1 Commando Regiment in the Australian Army Reserve. He was selected to represent 1 Commando Company on their prestigious Mountbatten Team that went on to win the 1988 Trophy. He continues to apply his risk management skills as a rock climber and bush walker, activities he learned as a child playing in the bushland adjacent to his home.

    Jóhanna Einarsdóttir is a Professor of Early Childhood Education and the Dean of School of Education, University of Iceland. She has been involved in several international research projects as a researcher and a consultant in her areas of expertise and published together with international colleagues. Professor Einarsdóttir is an editor of several books published in Icelandic and English. She has presented numerous papers and research results on early childhood education and educational transitions to professional and community groups nationally as well as internationally. Recently she has been conducting research on children's views on their preschool education, and transition and continuity in early childhood education. Johanna was elected to the EECERA Board of Trustees in 2012.

    Sue Elliott is a Senior Lecturer in early childhood education at the University of New England, Australia and has been an advocate over two decades for education for sustainability and natural outdoor playspaces. The interfaces between education for sustainability and outdoor playspaces were the focus of her action research doctoral study and she was awarded the 2014 Early Childhood Australia Doctoral Thesis Award. Sue is an active participant in the Transnational Dialogues in Early Childhood Education for Sustainability research group and on their behalf co-edited Research in Early Childhood Education for Sustainability: International Perspectives and Provocations (Davis & Elliott, 2014). A further area of research interest is ‘Bush Kinder', an Australian adaptation of Scandinavian forest preschools. Sue has also co-ordinated early childhood consultancy projects with organisations including the Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne and Zoos Victoria, contexts where threads of play, nature and sustainability can be interwoven by and with children.

    Kari Emilsen is Professor in social science at Queen Maud University College of Early Childhood Education (QMUC) in Norway. Her research interests are, among others, gender and equality, and recruitment of male workers to ECEC institutions. She has also conducted research on men in outdoor preschools. She has published a comparative study of men in outdoor preschools in Norway and Austria together with Bernhard Koch in European Early Childhood Education Research Journal. Emilsen is a convener of the Special interest group: ‘Gender balance in the ECEC work force’ within the EECERA organization, together with Professor Tim Rohrmann. They published papers in a Special Issue in European Early Childhood Education Research Journal: ‘Gender balance in the work force', which they also edited, in 2015. Emilsen also recently published a book on the topic of gender issues in ECEC in Norway.

    Lina Engelen is a Research Fellow at the School of Public Health and the Charles Perkins Centre at the University of Sydney, Australia. Her research interest is in the intersection between the physical environment and wellbeing. She studies how physical spaces, such as playgrounds, and modifications to them influence children's health, healthy behaviour (such as physical activity) and social interactions. Lina is founder of the Active Spaces network supporting innovation and collaboration in research into activity in the spaces we work, learn and play. A particular interest is in the field of active play and healthy risk taking.

    Feyza Tantekin Erden is an Associate Professor in the Department of Elementary and Early Childhood Education, Middle East Technical University, Turkey. She received her PhD from the Florida State University in 2002. She teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in early childhood education. Her current research and teaching interests include classroom management, children's play, early childhood curriculum, and gender equity in education. She has published articles in journals such as Teaching and Teacher Education, International Journal of Science Education, Early Child Development and Care, and Education.

    Greta Freeman is a Professor at the University of South Carolina Upstate in the Elementary Education department. She teaches undergraduate methods courses and graduate curriculum and content courses. She has been an elementary and middle school teacher and school administrator as well as a Pk-2nd grade curriculum coordinator in Western North Carolina. Dr Freeman has published numerous articles related to bullying, children and play, character education and literacy. Her current research focuses on young children and bullying, literacy assessment and higher education student issues.

    Tim Gill is an independent researcher, writer and consultant based in London, UK. He is interested in children's everyday lives and the changing nature of childhood, with a focus on children's play and free time. His book No Fear: Growing Up in a Risk-Averse Society was published in 2007, and he is the co-author of Managing Risk in Play Provision: Implementation Guide. Tim holds a degree in philosophy and psychology from Oxford University and a Master's degree in philosophy from London University. In 2009 he was awarded an honorary doctorate from Edge Hill University. Tim is a member of the editorial advisory board for the academic journal Children's Geographies. He is a former director of the Children's Play Council (now Play England) and was seconded to Whitehall in 2002 to lead the UK government's first comprehensive review into children's play. His website is

    Susan Herrington is a Professor in the School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture at the University of British Columbia. She has been designing and studying children's outdoor play spaces for 20 years. Her work focuses on the inclusion of natural elements and risky play in children's play and learning environments. She is the author of Schoolyard Park (2002), On Landscapes (2009), Cornelia Hahn Oberlander: Making the Modern Landscape (2013) and Landscape Theory in Design (2016). She is a licensed landscape architect in the United States.

    Margie Hohepa is a tribal member of Ng¯apuhi and Te Ātiawa in the North Island of Aotearoa New Zealand and a Professor and Associate Dean M¯aori in Te Kura Toi Tangata Faculty of Education at the University of Waikato. Primary trained, Margie has also taught in English and M¯aori medium primary and M¯aori medium early childhood settings. Her field of research is M¯aori education, framed by Kaupapa M¯aori theory and research methodologies. She has recently led a project aimed at strengthening M¯aori medium early childhood and school transitions for children, as well as their families and teachers. Research interests and publications also span M¯aori medium initial teacher education, M¯aori and Indigenous language regeneration and Indigenous educational leadership.

    Robyn M. Holmes is a Professor of Psychology at Monmouth University. Her teaching and research interests reflect interdisciplinary and cross-cultural perspectives. Her primary research interests are children's play, early childhood and qualitative methods. Her most recent research explores the relationship between childhood and culture through ethnographic fieldwork in the Pacific Rim. She is also exploring the relationship between play, language and creativity in preschoolers. She is the author of two books, How Young Children Perceive Race and Fieldwork with Children (available in Chinese) and a forthcoming text in cultural psychology. She has also published numerous articles and chapters on play, sport and development. These appear in the American Journal of Play, Children's Folklore Review, Play and Culture Studies, Child Studies in Asia-Pacific Contexts and the Journal of Sport Behavior.

    Valerie Huggins is the Associate Director for Teaching and Learning at the Plymouth Institute of Education of Plymouth University, UK, where she lectures in Early Childhood Studies. Before taking up her current post she worked for many years as an early years teacher and consultant and spent a year with Voluntary Services Overseas (VSO) training teacher educators in Ethiopia. Her research interests centre on approaches to promoting Early Childhood Education and Care for Sustainability, both in the UK and in Majority World contexts, through the professional development of practitioners. Valerie has recently completed a Doctorate in Education with a focus on interculturalism.

    Ylva Jannok Nutti is an Associate Professor at Sámi Allaskuvla/ Sámi University of Applied Sciences in Guovdageaidnu/Kautokeino. Dr Jannok Nutti has been conducting several action research and school development project with focus on Sámi traditional knowledge, and she has an background as primary school teacher at a Sámi school in the Swedish part of Sápmi. Her doctoral dissertation focused on how to transform mathematics teaching for Sámi pupils on basis of both Sámi tradtional knowledge and national curriculum. In 2008 her research focus was ethnomathematics and she published her licentiate thesis ‘Mathematical Thinking within the Sámi Culture on the basis of the Stories of Sámi Crafters and Reindeer Herders'. Today she is head of a research project ‘Engaging the voices of Sámi children: Sustaining traditional knowledge through kindergarten, school and community knowledge transfer'. All these projects are based on Indigenous knowledge and place-based teaching approaches.

    Kari-Anne J⊘rgensen is educated as a teacher with physical education, biology and nature resource management as main subjects. PhD from the University of Gothenburg on children's experiences in nature landscapes and its places. Working as an Associated Professor in University College of Southeast Norway. She is a Lecturer and researcher in early childhood, teacher training courses and international courses in outdoor education on bachelor, master and PhD level. Kari-Anne has storied landscapes and theories on phenomenology connected to embodied knowledge, and theories on experience and learning is the focus of the article presented in this Handbook.

    Sachiko Kitano is an Associate Professor of Early Childhood Care and Education in the Graduate School of Human Development and Environment, Kobe University. Her thesis on ‘Professionalization of Early Childhood Education: the Works of Early American Kindergarten Professional Organizations’ received PhD in education from Hiroshima University. She is interested in the professionalism in early childhood education and her most recent research interests are in the areas of function of professional organizations, preparation and in-service training, action research in ECE, and policy. She is the chairperson of PCERA Japan and the member of the executive board of Japan Society of Research on ECCE, Japanese Society for the Education of Young Children, and Japan Association of Research on Child Care Social Work. Her recent papers in English are Building Children's Sense of Trustworthiness towards Empathy and Social Morality (2014); Promoting Action Research in Early Childhood Education (2011); Promoting Professionalism of Early Childhood Care and Education in Japan (2011); and Current Issues in Assessment in Early Childhood Care and Education in Japan (2011).

    Sara Knight retired from her position as an academic and course group leader at Anglia Ruskin University in 2015. She continues to work as a freelance consultant, speaker and researcher into Forest School for all ages. She has contributed to the development Forest School in the UK, publishing academic papers and text books on this subject, and has been a keynote speaker at conferences in the UK, Europe, Asia and Canada.

    Bernhard Koch is a Researcher and Lecturer in the field of ECEC at different universities in Austria (University of Innsbruck, University of Salzburg, University of Graz) and was senior researcher at the Faculty of Education, University of Innsbruck, in the years 2007–2016. He is the EECERA country coordinator for Austria. His research interests are the professionalization and recruitment of male workers to ECEC institutions. In the past few years he has conducted two empirical research projects about ‘men in child care'. He has published two peer-reviewed articles with colleagues from Norway and New Zealand in the European Early Childhood Research Journal. He is editor of the Austrian standard reference book Handbook for Child Care Centre Management.

    Kristen E. Kohm received her Master's in Anthropology and Education at Teachers College, Columbia University. She is currently a PhD candidate in the Learning Sciences in the Contemporary Learning and Interdisciplinary Research programme at Fordham University. Her research interests include the relationship between play and language development and her work appears in the International Journal of Play.

    Helen Little is a Senior Lecturer and Early Childhood Program Director in the Department of Educational Studies, Macquarie University, Australia, where she teaches on undergraduate and postgraduate units in child development and outdoor learning environments. She is a trained early childhood teacher and previously taught in preschools and primary schools in Sydney. Her primary research interest investigates the influence of individual, social and environmental factors on children's engagement in risk-taking behaviour in outdoor play. Her current focus relates to how the physical features available in the outdoor environment and pedagogical practices relating to outdoor play provision in Early Childhood settings impact on children's experiences of risk-taking in play.

    Antje Luchs is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Department of Sports Science, University of Bremen, Germany. She completed her PhD in the field of biomechanical gait analysis at the University of Halle-Wittenberg, Germany. Her area of research is in movement science, especially with regard to outdoor play, movement and physical activity of children in urban life. The research focus lies in the interrelationship between urban environments and the play activity taking place in them. After having successfully worked on the improvement of free play observational tools, Antje Luchs transfers her results into recommendations for stakeholders and designers to plan and create playgrounds that are closer to the children playing on them.

    Merete Lund Fasting is in the Department of Public Health, Sports and Nutrition, University of Agder, Norway. She is PhD in outdoor play and learning among 10 years old children in the south of Norway. She observed the children in their self-induced play. She played with them, biked with them and talked with them during school hours and in their leisure time. Her latest research has been in 2 kindergardens; where she tried to understand the children's world of outdoor play. She has published in Norwegian until now and her last article (written together with Knut Londal) is titles as ‘The magical time outdoor, and focusing holistic learning outdoor'. Her research interest is outdoor play, outdoor life/friluftsliv, outdoor learning, places outdoor, movement, creativity and public health.

    Olav B. Lysklett is an Associate Professor in the Department of Physical Activity and Health at Queen Maud University College of early childhood education. He teaches physical activity and health in the early childhood education and care program. His research focuses on children's physical activity and fitness, nature preschools and motor learning.

    Sarah MacQuarrie has a MA(Hons) in Psychology from the University of Glasgow, a MSc in Research methods in Psychology and a PhD in Psychology both from the University of Strathclyde. Her research and lecturing experience includes the University of Strathclyde, the University of the Highlands and Islands and the Robert Gordon University. She is a lecturer in Psychology of education at the Manchester Institute of Education, University of Manchester. Her research is focused on the application of psychology in education and considers the relationship between theory and practice in education. Particular research interests include investigating ways to support teachers and professionals in education with their implementation of research based practice, with focused themes of research including bilingual education, group work and outdoor learning. Sarah is a Chartered Psychologist and Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Society.

    Kwi-Ok Nah is a Professor of Early Childhood Education at Soonchunhyang University, South Korea. She studied for her PhD at Oklahoma State University, USA. She also worked in the UK as a visiting academic at the Institute of Education, University of London in 2008 and at Anglia Ruskin University in 2014. Her research interests include international comparative study, outdoor learning, and mathematics education in early childhood.

    Geraldine Naughton is a Professor in Paediatric Exercise Science in the School of Exercise Science, at the Melbourne campus of the Australian Catholic University. Her research focuses on improving health-related outcomes through physical activity, in young people. In the pre-school setting her research involves promoting play in multidisciplinary teams for children from highly vulnerable families. She is currently a member of the Victorian State Government's Task Force on Sporting Injury Prevention.

    Kristín NorÐdahl is an Associate Professor at the School of Education, University of Iceland. Kristín has an undergraduate degree in biology from the University of Lund in Sweden, and a Master's degree and PhD in education studies from the University of Iceland. The areas of teaching and research interests are science education, environmental education and sustainability education as well as outdoor learning and teaching. She has presented papers and research results on these issues and participated in research and developmental projects nationally as well as internationally.

    Clare Nugent has worked education since 1996 in the secondary, primary and early years sectors. Her particular interest in nature-based education developed from her early background in outdoor education coupled with raising her own young family. Clare completed her MEd in Early Childhood followed by her PhD at the University of Edinburgh focusing on nature kindergartens as social constructions. Most recently, Clare has returned to teaching Design Technology and continues her research interests through writing for academic journals on her research methods.

    Gunnhildur Óskarsdóttir is an Associate Professor of Education at the School of Education, University of Iceland and the Head of Faculty of Teacher Education from 2013–2017. She did her Master's degree at Aberdeen University, Scotland and her PhD at the University of Iceland. Her research interests include children's learning and concept development, science education, classroom research and teacher education. She has presented papers and research results on these issues. In 2016 her book ‘The Brain Controls Everything’ Children's Ideas about the Body, built on her doctoral study, was published by IPA – Information Age Publishing.

    Pelusa Orellana is the Associate Dean for research and Full Professor of reading at the School of Education at Universidad de los Andes, Santiago, Chile. She has a PhD in Education from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and is one of the creators of Dialect, a technology-based platform for assessing Spanish reading abilities. She has published several journal articles and book chapters in Chile and other countries. Dr Orellana has also been the principal investigator in several grants in Chile. Her research focuses on reading development, reading assessment and diagnosis, and reading motivation. She has also served as curriculum advisor and textbook development advisor for the Chilean Ministry of Education.

    Josefina Prieto has been Director of the ‘Naturalizar Educativamente’ program at ‘Fundación Ilumina', a Chilean non-profit organization founded in 2009. The initiative is the first Outdoor Learning Early Childhood Program in her country. Prior her joining to Ilumina, Josefina worked as an independent landscape designer for more than 10 years. She holds a degree in Agricultural Engineering with a Diploma in Resource Economics from the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile and a Master in Architecture in Studies of Landscape from the University of Sheffield, UK (1999). Josefina is married and has five children, who have been her inspiration to create Naturalizar from scratch with a brilliant team of hands-on, life-long educators in scarce opportunities’ counties. Their collective dream is to transform their Outdoor Learning and Play program into a Chilean, and why not, a Latinamerican public policy.

    Mary Caroline Rowan is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Education at Concordia University, in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. She recently defended her PhD, titled, ‘Thinking with Nunangat in Proposing Pedagogies for/with Inuit Early Childhood Education', at the University of New Brunswick, where she was a Vanier Canada Graduate Scholar. Carol is a member of the Common Worlds Research Collective. She has worked as a visting scholar at the University of Canterbury in Aotearoa/New Zealand and at the Sami Allaskuvla in the Norwegian part of Saapmi. Her research interests include documenting encounters with land, water and ice as a strategy for accessing Indigenous ontologies in the practice of early childhood education.

    Anette Sandberg is Professor of Early Childhood Education and Director of Research, School of Education, Culture and Communication, Mälardalen University, Sweden. Anette's thesis from 2003 was about The Playworld of Grown ups. A Study of Adults’ Play Experiences. She has been responsible for the Early Childhood Education Group at Mälardalen University since 2006. She teaches and supervises in the area of early childhood education. Anette has done research on preschool and school for many years. Her current research interests include for example professionalism, learning and participation, young children's possibilities to participate in care situations and be able to share their experiences. Her interest in environments can be traced in most of them.

    Olivia N. Saracho is Professor in the Department of Teaching and Learning, Policy and Leadership at the University of Maryland at College Park. She has taught Head Start, preschool, kindergarten, and elementary classes. She is a former bilingual teacher in Brownsville, Texas, and has written several articles in that area. Her current research and writing is in the field of early childhood education. She has conducted research on children's play, emergent literacy, and family literacy. In relation to the area of play, she has written numerous articles such as Young children's play and cognitive style, The challenge of educational play, Children's play in the visual arts and literature, and many others. In addition, she is the author of An Integrated Play-Based Curriculum for Young Children (Routledge/Taylor & Francis Group) and co-editor of Contemporary Perspectives on Play in Early Childhood Education (Information Age Publishing) and Multiple Perspectives on Play in Early Childhood Education (State University of New York Press).

    Susan G. Solomon is an Author, Curator, Lecturer and Consultant. Trained as an art historian (PhD University of Pennsylvania, 1997), she has a strong interest in seeing playgrounds become a vital component of public space. She is an advocate for merging maximum playability with good design. To that end, she has written two books: American Playgrounds: Revitalizing Community Space (University Press of New England, 2005) and The Science of Play: How to Build Playgrounds that Enhance Children's Development (University Press of New England, 2014; Korean edition, Sonamoo Publishing Company, 2016). Susan also writes the blog After the Deadline that appears every other month ( Her consulting company is Curatorial Resources & Research in Princeton, New Jersey.

    Maria Francisca Valenzuela is the Associate Dean of the School of Education at Universidad de los Andes, Chile. She is also a researcher and Associate Professor at the same university. She holds a Master's in Science in Educational Psychology from the Pontificia Universidad Católica. Professor Valenzuela teaches oral language and early literacy courses in the Early Childhood Program. She has developed and published several instruments to assess oral language abilities (phonological awareness and semantic awareness) and several articles in the same area. She is a member of the Literacy Research Association and has also has participated in different projects related to oral language strategies and teacher training. Professor Valenzuela has been part of various national education projects, among which are the executive team that developed standards for the initial training of early childhood teachers, and online courses of language and literacy for teacher's training.

    Judy Van Heerden is a Lecturer in the Faculty of Education at the University of Pretoria. She is involved with early childhood and foundation phase modules in the undergraduate and postgraduate programmes. She has a PhD in Education. She is a laureate innovation education award winner of the University of Pretoria for the development of curriculum and learning materials. Her research interests include quality in early learning centres; art, science and technology in the Foundation phase; learning through play and learning approaches in early childhood education.

    Claire Warden has authored a number of articles and books in the field of Nature Pedagogy. The most recent book, Learning with Nature-Embedding Outdoor Practice (2015, Sage), brings together defining elements of her Nature Pedagogy. Experienced as a lecturer in Scotland, she now works as a consultant and visiting academic in the UK, Australia, New Zealand, USA, Canada and Singapore. Her pathway holds a broad variety of experience from community support work to teaching through the pedagogy of nature inside, outside and beyond the fences into wilder spaces. She is on the international advisory boards of the Children and Nature Network (USA); International school grounds Alliance; and World forum foundation (Nature Action Collaborative focus group). In 2010, she and her husband founded Living Classrooms as a charity to work in nature to support capacity building within marginalized communities. In 2016, they founded the International Association of Nature Pedagogy to support international connections between nature based networks. Claire's most recent award was an International Educational Leadership award in 2015 and she is currently engaged in her PhD with a research focus of Nature Pedagogy.

    Jane Waters is the Assistant Dean Research in the Faculty of Education and Communities, University of Wales Trinity Saint David. Having worked initially as a classroom teacher, then as Director of an undergraduate Early Childhood Studies programme and then Head of Initial Teacher Education, she now works most closely with postgraduate research students. Jane's doctoral research focussed on adult–child interaction, sustained shared thinking and the affordance of different educative spaces. Her research interests lie in early childhood education; adult–child interaction in educative spaces; young children's agency and voice; and young children's experiences of outdoor spaces. She is passionate about the potential in Wales for innovative, engaging early years education as a result of the Foundation Phase framework, introduced across Wales from 2008, and sits on the Welsh Government's Foundation Phase expert group.

    Philip Waters is co-founder and Creative Director of I Love Nature, a social enterprise in Cornwall, UK, that provides training, outdoor environmental education, play consultancy and research. With an interest in children's fiction and a long career working in various children's environments, Phil's work brings together play, narrative and nature within a form of praxis called Narrative Journey. This has more recently culminated in a doctorate with the European Centre for Environment and Human Health, University of Exeter Medical School, where his major research interests include children's nature-based play, stories and storying, environmental education for young children, and playful praxis in research.


    The editors of this Handbook wish to make:

    • An acknowledgement of the children, families and educators whose experiences and stories have shaped this work, and;
    • An acknowledgment of our collective responsibility for the preservation of the natural world for future generations.

    We are also very grateful for the help and support we received throughout this project from SAGE, in particular to Matt Oldfield and Jude Bowen. In addition, we would like to thank all the contributing authors for their collegiality, patience and willingness to engage with reviewer and editorial feedback. The Handbook has also benefited from the encouragement and guidance of members of the Outdoor Play and Learning Special Interest Group (SIG) within the European Early Childhood Education Research Association (EECERA).

    Finally, we would like to acknowledge the following reviewers for their thoughtful and valuable feedback:

    • Victoria Carr, University of Cincinnati, USA
    • Ingunn Fjortoft, Telemark University College, Norway
    • Trond Loge Hagen, Queen Mauds University-College, Norway
    • Anna Kilderry, Deakin University, Australia
    • Ingrid Engdahl, Stockholm University, Sweden
    • Aida Figueiredo, University of Aveiro, Portugal
    • Margaret Kernan, International Child Development Initiatives, Ireland
    • Jane Merewether, Curtin University, Australia
    • Anita Niehues, Lenoir-Rhyne University, USA
    • Claire Warden, International Association of Nature Pedagogy, UK

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