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The Natural Environment as a Playground for Children: The Impact of Outdoor Play Activities in Pre-Primary School Children


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The present study explored how a natural environment in Norway provides a stimulating playscape for kindergarten children, and how different features in the landscape afforded play activities. The impact of such outdoor activities on children’s motor fitness was tested, and a better improvement was found in the experimental group compared to the reference group. Significant differences (p<. 01) were found in balance and co-ordination abilities. The study indicated a probable relation between all-round play in the natural environment and the effect on motor development in the children. Key words: Children and environment, landscape as playscape, play habitats for children, affordances for play, motor development.
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Early Childhood Education Journal,Vol.29,No.2,Winter 2001 (2001)
Environmental Education
The Natural Environment as a Playground for Children:
The Impact of Outdoor Play Activities in Pre-Primary
School Children
Ingunn Fjørtoft
INTRODUCTION have experienced positive results from being outdoors
in natural environments, but only a few studies have
Norwegian studies have revealed a disquieting ten- been done in this field (Bang et al., 1989; Fjørtoft, 1999;
dency that children are becoming more sedentary in Grahn et al., 1997). We know far too little about how
their adolescence. They spend more time, approximately the natural environment functions as a playground for
three hours a day, on TV, video, and electronic media children, and we know even less about what effects such
(MMI, 1995). The movement pattern of children has a playground might have on learning in children. The
changed remarkably the last 10–20 years. The unorgani- physical outdoor environment, and the natural environ-
sed traditional games, which included lots of moving ment in particular, as a play habitat for children, has
around, are now changing into sitting in front of your been a topic of low priority in child research (Bjerke,
private computer playing computer games. Such scenar- 1994).
ios have resulted in several health hazards like increas-
ing obesity in early childhood (Anderson et al., 1998),
and motor problems in children are reported in several
Scandinavian studies (Due et al., 1991; Hertzberg, 1985; Natural environments represent dynamic and rough
Gilberg and Rasmussen, 1982; Kjos, 1992; Ropeid, playscapes that challenge motor activity in children. The
1997). However, a recent study of the physical activity topography, like slopes and rocks, afford natural obsta-
among 3–7 years old Norwegian children (MMI, 1997) cles that children have to cope with. The vegetation pro-
showed that 75% of the children spend some time out- vides shelters and trees for climbing. The meadows are
doors by their own every day. The most active ones for running and tumbling. Description of physical envi-
practiced several outdoor activities such as skiing and ronments usually focuses almost exclusively on forms.
hiking in the wilderness, climbing trees, enjoying water Heft (1988) suggested an alternative approach to de-
activities, and soccer in the field. Four out of ten chil- scribe the environment, which focused on function
dren expressed a wish for more time for physical activity rather than form. The functional approach corresponds
(Hansen, 1999), but children complain about the lack of better to the children’s relations to their environment.
suitable arenas for play and free time activities, such as Intuitively children use their environment for physical
grounds for climbing, building dens, sliding, and skiing challenges and play; they perceive the functions of the
(Mjaavatn, 1999). Francis (1988) argued that children’s landscape and use them for play. The central concept
play in an unstructured environment, preferably a natu- guiding children’s examination of their environment is
ral one, gives the children a genuine understanding of that of affordance. Gibson (1979) developed the concept
reality. Rivkin (1990, 1995) highlights the values of out- “affordance” to describe an awareness of the environ-
door play, but regrets that children’s access to outdoor ments and their functional significance, or their func-
play habitats are vanishing. tional meaning. For example if a rock is big enough to
Several kindergartens in the Scandinavian countries fit the hand, it might be perceived as an object to grasp
or to throw; it affords grasping or throwing. A tree that
is appropriately branched and stemmed, will likewise be
Address correspondence to Ingunn Fjørtoft, Tel.: +47 35026333, Fax: perceived as climb-on-able; it affords climbing-on. Na-
+47 35026201; e-mail:; Telemark University
College, Department of Teacher Training, 3679 Notodden, Norway. ture provides an environment with such possibilities and
1082-3301/01/1200-0111$19.50/0 2001 Human Sciences Press, Inc.
affordances. Frost (1992) introduced the concept “play- might be characterized as quasi-experimental approach
(Robson, 1993, Thomas & Nelson, 1985). The groupsscape” to describe different play environments. He ar-
gued that natural features are important qualities of play- were selected from three kindergartens equal in age
groups. The experimental group of 46 children from onegrounds, and that the natural features allow a wide range
of learning opportunities not available from other play- kindergarten was offered free play and versatile activi-
ties in the forest next to the kindergarten. The experi-ground options. Hart (1979) and Moore (1986) have de-
scribed the children’s preferences of wilderness and un- mental group used the forest every day for 1–2 hours
throughout the year when they attended the kindergarten.structured landscapes for play.
In Scandinavia it has become popular for kinder- Only randomly they used the outdoor playground inside
the kindergarten fence. As reference group 29 childrengartners to spend more time outdoors in the natural envi-
ronment. Some kindergartens are organized as outdoor of the same age groups from two kindergartens in the
neighbouring district were chosen. The groups wereschools, where the children, aged three to six, spend all
or most of the day outdoors in a natural environment. checked out for differences in socioeconomic living con-
ditions by multiple regression analysis, using parents’ ed-Playing in a natural environment seems to have positive
effects on children; they become more creative in their ucational and professional background as variables. The
reference group used their traditional outdoor playgroundplay, and play activities and play forms are increasing.
It is also indicated that absence due to sicknesses is for 1– 2 hours a day and visited natural sites only occa-
sionally. Both groups had the same standard playgroundlower among children in outdoor kindergartens than in
the traditional ones (Grahn et al., 1997, So
¨m, equipment, such as sandpit, a swing, a seesaw, a slide
and a climbing house in their outdoor play ground. The1998). Not the least it is evident that the children’s mo-
tor fitness is improved. They move easily around in a study started with a pretest in September. The treatment
period lasted for nine months, and was terminated with arugged terrain and cope with physical challenges, which
improve their motor ability (Fjørtoft, 1999, Grahn et al., posttest in June the following year.
Both groups were tested with the EUROFIT: Eu-1997). Although few in number, these studies indicate
that the natural environment is a stimulating arena for ropen Test of Physical Fitness,the Motor Fitness Test
(Adam et al., 1988). The test included the following testlearning in general, and for motor fitness training in par-
ticular. The present research corroborates the main find- items: Flamingo balance test (standing on one foot) for
testing of general balance, Plate tapping (rapid tappingings.
of two plates alternatively with preferred hand) measur-
ing the speed of limb movement. Sit and reach ex-
VERSATILE PLAY IN THE NATURAL pressed flexibility in knee and thigh joints. Standing
ENVIRONMENT AND THE IMPACT ON broad jump (jumping for distance from a standing start)
CHILDREN’S MOTOR DEVELOPMENT measured explosive strength. Sit-ups (maximum num-
bers of sit-ups achievable in half a minute) measured
Objectives trunk strength. Bent arm hang (maintaining a bent arm
position while hanging from a bar) for testing of func-
The notion that versatile play in a natural environ- tional strength in arm and shoulder, and Shuttle run (a
ment might have an impact on children’s development running and turning, shuttle, test at maximum speed)
constituted the background for the present study. The testing running speed and agility. Two additional tests
aim of the study was to investigate how children’s play- were introduced: Beam walking for testing dynamic bal-
ing in the natural environment might stimulate their mo- ance and Indian skip (clapping right knee with left hand
tor fitness and it was decided to focus on the affordances and vice versa), which tested cross coordination (Fjør-
of the landscape and the correlation for versatile play. toft, in press).
The main objectives were, 1) to focus on the affordances Data analyses were performed according to the sta-
of the landscape for versatile play and, 2) to examine tistical programme SPSS/PC+, the PC version of the
the impact of outdoor play activities in children’s motor Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (Norusis,
ability and mastering. 1993; Frude, 1993). Frequency analyses, means and the
T-test for independent samples and paired samples, cor-
Methods relations; multiple regression analyses and factor analy-
ses were applied for data processing (Fjørtoft, in prep.).An experimental study was carried out with five-
to seven-year-old children in kindergartens in Telemark, In this article the main findings of the study will be
presented.Norway. Because of the lack of randomization, the study
113The Natural Environment as a Playground
Results tumn time were all located behind and above and close
to the kindergarten area. This area included 5 different
types of woodland, the low-herb woodland being the
The Study Area
The site of the investigation was a small forest of dominant type of vegetation, see Figure 2. The mixture
of woodland types represented a high diversity in vege-7.7 hectars of mixed woodland vegetation, located close
to a kindergarten in Bø, Telemark County in Norway. tation elements.
The variety of woodland vegetation and the physi-The landscape pattern showed a mosaic of patches of
woodland with some open spaces of rocks and open ognomy of trees and shrubs in the area made the afford-
ances for play and play habitats an offer of multiplefields and meadows in between. The topography, ex-
pressed as slope and roughness, was varied with some choices. The shrubs constituted a mixture of scattered
species, which afforded shelter and hiding, social play,steep cliffs, slopes, and plains. Vegetation and topogra-
phy jointly afforded a diversity of play habitats for the and construction play. Very special was the flexible ju-
niper bush, which motivated for functional play (how tochildren (Fjørtoft & Sageie, 2000). The forest was lo-
cated outside the fence and behind the kindergarten get in and out) and social play (play house) as well.
Some trees were suitable for climbing depending on the(Figure 1). In the closest parts the children were allowed
to go at will, but in the farther parts the children had to branching pattern, the stem diameter, and the flexibility
of the tree. The young deciduous trees were easily acces-be accompanied by adults.
sible for climbing (Figure 3).
The spruces were more suitable for hiding than for
Play Habitats climbing due to the dense branches. The more open areas
in the pine and low-herb woodland afforded running,The children more frequently used some favorite
places in the forest. These play habitats were located chase and catch, leapfrog, play tag, and other games that
an open space can afford. The shrubs afforded hide-and-close to the kindergarten and represented specific play
habitats for summer and winter play activities (Fig. 2). seek, building dens and shelters and role-play like house-
and-home, pirates, fantasy, and function play (Figure 4).The play habitats used in the spring, summer and au-
Fig. 1. The kindergarten and the forest.
play like building snow figures and dens. The genuine
winter habitat was a meadow located next to the kinder-
garten and comprised a soccer field and the lower parts
of a ski jump arena (Figure 2). These fields were used
by the kindergarten almost solely as a skiing arena in
the winter. For children at the age of 5–7 years the more
gentle slopes of the ski-jump arena were used for differ-
ent skiing disciplines (Figure 6).
Motor Ability
The groups matched in age with a mean age of 6.1
years and there were no significant differences in age
between the groups. It was the six-year-olds that domi-
nated both groups. The sex distribution in the groups
showed a predominance of boys in the experimental
group (27 boys, 19 girls), while in the reference group
there were more girls (18 girls and 11 boys). There were
no significant differences in test results between the
sexes. Body mass and height did not show any signifi-
Fig. 2. The forest. Vegetation map. Playscapes indicated by grey color.
The topography was undulating with terraces and
slopes and a dominant cliff traversing the area, which
afforded slopes for sliding and cliffs for climbing (Fig-
ure 5).
The children’s favorite places were named “The
Cone War,” The Space Ship,” and “The Cliff.” The
naming itself is illustrative for the activities taking place
there. Free play fostered creative play, and the playscape
afforded loose parts and natural objects and materials to
play with. Play activities were observed related to the
affordances of the vegetation and the topography (Fjør-
toft & Sageie, 2000).
The play habitats in the forest were also used dur-
ing the wintertime, but their functional use was differ-
ent. The cliff turned into sliding slopes of different cate-
gories. With appropriate clothing with oilskins (trousers
for wet climate), the children made high-speed competi-
tions in different sliding disciplines: on their backs, on
their stomachs, feet first, head first, and so on. The steep
slope afforded shorter but more challenging rides. The
deep snow provided affordances for tumbling, rolling,
and other acrobatics. A dense snow layer made the trees
more accessible for climbing. The play categories in the
forest during the winter season can be categorized as
functional play (climbing, crawling, making angels in
the snow, etc.), role-play like play house, construction Fig. 3. Climbing trees.
115The Natural Environment as a Playground
Fig. 4. Hiding and role-play.
cant differences between the groups, neither between the
sexes. Multiple regression analyses correlating test re-
sults with background variables, such as parents’ educa- Fig. 6. Ski-jumper.
tion and profession, showed that these variables had no
significant influence on the test results (Fjørtoft, in reach) were found within the experimental group. The
prep.). improvement within the reference group was not as
During the trial period a gradual improvement in striking (Table 1).
motor ability was observed in the experimental group. Comparing the groups at the posttest, significant
The children became strikingly better at mastering a rug- differences in favor of the experimental group were
ged ground and unstructured landscape. The impact of found in the Flamingo balance test (p <.001) and the
the environment on the children’s motor ability was doc- Indian skip coordination test (p <.01). Figure 7 shows
umented in the motor fitness tests. Table 1 and Figure 7 the interference effects from pre- to posttest in both
show the main test results of motor development in the groups, showing a significant better improvement in the
groups. experimental group in those two items.
At the pretest the reference group scored better than
the experimental group (Table 1). At the posttest the
experimental group had caught up with the reference DISCUSSION
group and significant differences between the pre- and This study has described the relationship between
posttest in all the test items except for flexibility (sit and the structure and functions of a natural landscape, its
affordances for play, and the impact on motor develop-
ment in children. A significant relation between the di-
versity of the landscape and the affordance of play was
indicated (Fjørtoft & Sageie, 2000). As described by
Gibson (1979) the affordances of a landscape are what
it offers the child. As the child perceives the functions
of a landscape and uses it for play, the landscape might
have a functional impact on children’s behavior and play
performance. As maintained by Moore and Wong
(1997) the physical diversity increases the opportunities
for learning and development. This was also verified by
the findings of the present study. The motor fitness tests
showed a general tendency that the children using the
forest as a playscape performed better in motor skills
than the children on the traditional playground. At theFig. 5. Climbing rocks.
Table I. Pre- and posttest. Mean results (SE) within the groups SPSS T-test for paired samples
FLAMINGO (no. of instabilities in 30 sec.) 4.7 (0.8) 1.5 (0.3)*** 4.0 (0.6) 3.3 (0.7)
PLATE TAPPING (Time in sec. of 50 taps) 35.0 (1.9) 28.1 (1.2)*** 29.9 (1.1) 27.4 (2.6)
SIT AND REACH (cm) 24.9 (0.8) 24.4 (0.8) 25.3 (1.0) 25.5 (0.9)
STANDING BROAD JUMP (cm) 102.8 (2.9) 113.1 (3.6)*** 103.1 (4.3) 111.3 (3.8)**
SIT-UPS (reps. in 30 sec.) 5.3 (0.6) 6.5 (0.6)** 5.9 (0.8) 7.0 (1.1)
BENT ARM HANG (sec.) 2.6 (0.4) 7.0 (1.0)*** 2.6 (0.6) 5.4 (1.1)***
BEAM WALKING (sec.) 11.4 (1.4) 7.5 (0.7)** 7.7 (0.8) 7.2 (1.1)
INDIAN SKIP (reps. in 30 sec.) 21.8 (2.2) 43.6 (1.9)*** 27.8 (2.4) 37.2 (1.8)***
SHUTTLE RUN (sec.) 31.9 (0.7) 29.7 (0.5)** 30.7 (0.8) 30.3 (0.7)
** =p<.01, *** =p<.001.
pretest the experimental group started lower than the ref- other variables such as leisure activities, were outside
the control of this study. However, the parents’ socio-erence group, but scored better in all test items at the
posttest (Table 1). This result makes it highly desirable economic background did not have any influence on the
test results and there was no reason to anticipate oneto make causal inferences, and according to Robson
(1993), when there is statistical significance, it is reason- parent group being more active outdoors than the other.
It is generally accepted that people in the countryside inable to conclude that it is the independent variable (play-
ing in the forest), which have affected the dependent Norway have similar opportunities for leisure activities
and there is a somewhat democratic distribution of atten-variable (motor fitness). This amplifies the impression
that the experimental group improved more during the dance to sports and leisure activities in the population
(Wichstrøm, 1995).intervention period than the reference group. Significant
differences were noticed between the experimental A study carried out by Grahn et al. (1997) showed
a similar correlation between the physical playscape andgroup and the reference group in balance and coordina-
tion at the posttest as illustrated in Figure 7. Growth motor abilities. The study design was more like a case
study including two kindergartens with different outdoorand maturation in the children may have affected these
results. The anthropometrical measurements, however, playgrounds. One kindergarten had access to natural en-
vironment within the playground area while the othershowed no differences between the groups, neither did
age and sex. It should therefore be reasonable to con- kindergarten had a more traditional urban playground.
The EUROFIT Motor Fitness Test was applied and thesider the gain in motor fitness in the experimental group
to be related to versatile play in a stimulating playscape. results showed a significantly better performance in the
natural play area group than the traditional group.Whether these effects might have been influenced by
Grahn’s study supports the findings of the present study
and jointly the two studies indicate the positive impact
of the natural environment on children’s motor develop-
ment. Playground studies confirm the significance of di-
versity in play equipment on children’s play behavior.
The more equipped, the more versatile and creative the
play (Frost & Sunderlin, 1985, Frost, 1992), and Moore
and Wong (1997) observed that the repertoire of chil-
dren’s behavior broadened enormously with the increase
in physical diversity of the environment. Analysis of
landscape ecology and topography for the study area de-
scribed a varied and diverse playscape, and the study
Fig. 7. Intereference effects. showed a strong relation between landscape structure
Pre- posttest results. and play functions (Fjørtoft & Sageie, 2000). The study
Flamingo balance: Exp. group: 3.8* (0.3), Ref. group: 0.9 (0.6). Indian of Titman (1994) also confirms the children’s needs for
skip: Exp. group: 20.6* (2.2), Ref. group: 10.5 (2.1).
green grounds, trees to climb and shrubs for shelter and
*=p<.05 (2-tailed).
117The Natural Environment as a Playground
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... These natural elements may afford opportunities for diversifying play types, developing motor competence, and increasing physical activity. 27 When children spend time outdoors playing in ECE, approximately 40% of their time is spent engaging in physical activity 28 and some evidence has suggested motor competence may be developed if active play interventions are provided in ECE settings. 29,30 A recent systematic review explored the associations between exposure to nature (including ECE and non ECE settings) and children's (0-12 y) health. ...
... Geographical Location. The majority of the studies were conducted in Norway (n = 8), 27,[40][41][42][43][44][45][46][47][48] United States (n = 7), [40][41][42][43][44][45][46] Australia (n = 6), [47][48][49][50][51][52] and Canada (n = 4). [53][54][55][56] Three studies each were conducted in Finland, [57][58][59] Germany, [60][61][62] and Sweden. ...
... Within the effect direction plot (presented in Table 4), 3 studies were grouped together for balance, speed, and agility, 27,61,75-77 and 2 for object control skills. 53,77 For balance, a significant positive relationship was found in 2 studies in children who attended nature-based ECE compared to traditional ECE, 27,61,75,76 with one other study suggesting better balance in traditional ECE. 77 For object control skills, one study reported a nonsignificant positive association in children who attended nature-based ECE compared to traditional ECE, 53 the other suggested that there was a nonsignificant negative association between object control skills and nature-based ECE. ...
Background: The purpose was to synthesize evidence on the association between nature-based Early Childhood Education (ECE) and children's physical activity (PA) and motor competence (MC). Methods: A literature search of 9 databases was concluded in August 2020. Studies were eligible if (1) children were aged 2-7 years old and attending ECE, (2) ECE settings integrated nature, and (3) assessed physical outcomes. Two reviewers independently screened full-text articles and assessed study quality. Synthesis was conducted using effect direction (quantitative), thematic analysis (qualitative), and combined using a results-based convergent synthesis. Results: 1370 full-text articles were screened and 39 (31 quantitative and 8 qualitative) studies were eligible; 20 quantitative studies assessed PA and 6 assessed MC. Findings indicated inconsistent associations between nature-based ECE and increased moderate to vigorous PA, and improved speed/agility and object control skills. There were positive associations between nature-based ECE and reduced sedentary time and improved balance. From the qualitative analysis, nature-based ECE affords higher intensity PA and risky play, which could improve some MC domains. The quality of 28/31 studies was weak. Conclusions: More controlled experimental designs that describe the dose and quality of nature are needed to better inform the effectiveness of nature-based ECE on PA and MC.
... It has been determined that natural areas encourage children's mental activities and increase their self-confidence by supporting adventurous behaviors (Moore, 2002;Fjortoft, 2004;Turgut and Yılmaz, 2010) While natural obstacles such as climbing rocks in urban green areas or the slope presented by the topography are the elements that the child has to deal with, plant elements such as trees and bushes are elements that offer the child's climbing, as well as places to take shelter and hide. Green areas provide opportunities for the child to run and roll (Fjortoft, 2001). Activities such as running, climbing, jumping, walking on walls, playing with water, sand and soil, which are the child's natural needs, support the child's physical development, enable him to learn about his body and its limits, and become aware of his abilities (Düzenli et al., 2019;Marcus & Francis, 1998;Tandogan;2016). ...
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Experiences in childhood shape personality structures in adulthood and provide the formation of a person's identity. The most important process and method in this formation is the play in childhood. Play increases the child's self-confidence, in addition to many physical abilities, it improves their ability to communicate with other people and to be a part of a social structure, to develop higher brain functions and social skills. By playing games, the child can find the opportunity to study and learn about the relationships and social roles about the world around him. For this reason, playgrounds that can offer these opportunities to children should be designed. However, today, children cannot find a place for themselves in cities and open spaces surrounded by buildings and vehicles. This leads to the increasing number of asocial individuals who cannot communicate, who have not developed social skills, who are dependent on computers and phones, and the formation of communities where people are alienated from each other and the sense of being a society disappears. In order to prevent this, there is a need for natural playgrounds and tools that can develop children's imaginations, support their view of life, increase the sense of cooperation and solidarity, help their spiritual and physical development, and create an instinct to protect the environment and other living things in the environment. Within the scope of this study, the characteristics of playgrounds and equipment in which children can develop their creativity, physical and social skills, and the sense of protecting nature and other living things in urban open spaces have been revealed. In the Landscape Architecture Environmental Design Project course, evaluations were made on the projects that offered solutions for this.
... Thus, the interventions developed and provided in this research form a potential contribution to knowledge as they aim to intrigue visitors, introduce nature play as an anticipated feature of visitors' experience, be feasible for gardens to manage, and be designed with minimal to no environmental impact. Fjørtoft (2001) notes the value of untamed play spaces in relation with physical engagement and interaction and the role of the adult -who, in the present context are parents or guardians of participating children -is known to be significant (Nugent and Beames, 2015). Children will tailor their activity and engagement in accordance with the preferences expressed by adults when playing near their home (Carver et al., 2008). ...
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This paper reports on a study of nature play in two botanic gardens where there are normally strict rules about touching and handling plants. Features of nature-based play and learning are presented, and the available evidence is drawn together as the basis for a series of nature interventions trialed within a botanic garden. Data were recorded using three methods: time-sampled observations, annotation of intervention-specific maps, and follow-up feedback forms completed by adults. Findings evidence that the nature play can be fostered in botanic gardens and it is advantageous to support such interaction by carefully promoting play in designated spaces. Visitors embraced play opportunities and valued the freedom to behave and investigate in ways that are a departure from tradition and given the lack of research regarding such play and learning environments such findings ought to be noted as addressing a gap within the literature. Findings are relevant to comparable sites that encounter challenges when balancing differing agendas that include nature conservation with visitor experience. Botanic gardens can offer a useful route to examine conservation, environmental understanding, and stewardship with the youngest members of society as nature play experiences are first-hand and locally relevant.
... Moreover, significant effects were found in balance and coordinative abilities. These skills are particularly important for children's general mastering of their own body in relation to the physical environment [60]. ...
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The COVID-19 restrictions could preclude children from participating in physical education (PE) interventions. This study aimed to evaluate the efficacy of a PE intervention conducted on the beach on children’s skill- and health-related outcomes, as a possible alternative PE intervention that could be also applied during the COVID-19 pandemic. The study involved 106 primary school children, randomly assigned to the traditional indoor (TI) intervention or to the experimental outdoor (EO) intervention. The intervention period lasted 4 months and consisted of two 1-h sessions per week. Intervention was conducted just before the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Children’s anthropometric parameters (height, weight, BMI, body fat percentage, and abdominal circumference), fitness parameter (VO2peak), health parameters (resting heart rate, and systolic and diastolic blood pressure), gross motor coordination, and physical activity level were assessed before and after intervention. Both groups significantly improved fitness and motor coordination but worsened some anthropometric parameters (weight, abdominal circumference) after the intervention period. The EO group showed a higher increase of gross motor coordination than the TI group. Results of this study demonstrated that children benefited from a well-structured PE intervention conducted in the natural environment of the beach improving physical fitness and gross motor coordination. Therefore, planning outdoor PE interventions could be an alternative and safe way to encourage and implement physical activity at school during the particular period of COVID-19 pandemic.
... C'est de cette manière que les enfants apprennent à « se sentir chez [eux] dans le monde » (Berryman, 2003, p. 217). Ainsi, les enfants qui peuvent explorer leur environnement naturel vont développer un rapport Fjørtoft, 2001 ;Kellert, 2002). Cette étape serait, pour Sobel (1995), charnière dans le développement des valeurs pro-environnementales et dans la volonté de s'engager pour la protection de la planète, à condition qu'on offre aux enfants des opportunités nombreuses, régulières et variées d'interagir directement avec le monde naturel qui les entoure. ...
... Research has demonstrated that outdoor activities, especially in natural environments, have significant potential to benefit children's cognitive, emotional, social, and physical development, as well as their health and overall well-being, self-regulation skills, and attention (Kemple et al., 2016). The study conducted by Fjørtoft (2001) indicates that the there is a positive relation between outdoor activities in the natural environment and motor fitness in children. Authors argue that motor competences are of great importance to children's general adaptation to the physical environment. ...
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The main goal of the present study was to explore if there are any differences in attitudes toward outdoor activities between students from urban and rural areas. Moreover, it was necessary to extract data regarding implementation of certain models of outdoor activities in order to evaluate which models are mostly carried out as extracurricular activities in nature in order to draw valuable conclusions for future practice. The results showed that there were no significant differences between students from urban and rural settings, except in students' attitudes towards benefits of outdoor activities on proper growth and development in favor of students from rural areas. According to Cohen's interpretation, a small to moderate effect (Cohen's d=0.02-0.38) regarding living environment variations was present in the relevant items. Moreover, excursions were the most implemented extracurricular activity at schools, and regarding outdoor activities, outings and athletic cross country were the most dominant. However, outdoor activities like winter and summer outdoor activities, camping, cycling, hiking tours should be implemented in order to potentially improve students' engagement in physical activity in natural environments. Future studies should be focused on exploring the effect of diverse natural environments, PE teachers' and practitioners' competencies, school curriculums, students and parents' barriers towards outdoor physical activities. This multifactorial approach could probably provide causal relationship, which could clarify this issue.
Family and Consumer Sciences programs target families in deprived rural and urban communities with the objective of equipping them with skills to improve family well-being, education, and relationships. In recent years, the focus of FCS in Ghana has been on parental styles and education that foster parents’ involvement in their children's school work. Using a child-parent interactive model, a series of math activities were delivered to children between the ages of 6 and 10 years. Group activities were also facilitated by the FCS staff. Parents used local materials, such as small empty cans, bottles, leaves, stones, sticks, old newspapers, and sand, to explain math concepts. Staff, parents, and children used fun activities and role plays to demonstrate developmental processes that enhance effective child development. The lessons identified were tied to the understanding of appropriate parenting styles that foster acquisition of skills for basic math concepts. Parents reported increased interest and confidence in math and were more proactive in supervising their children to complete their homework. The importance of the model lies in its simplicity in conveying fundamental knowledge that relates to the interwoven aspect of developmental domains to ensure children experience maximal success with math-related activities.
This chapter focuses on the impact of different outdoor settings on young children’s free-play activity as a basis for early STEM education. The free play of three to five-year-old children in western Germany was investigated over several years in different outdoor settings such as natural areas and playgrounds through participant observation. The data were analysed using qualitative content analysis to identify and examine different types of play (e.g. creative or object play). The results show that different outdoor environments differ in their potential to promote STEM-related play types. Areas such as woods were shown to offer children a variety of natural materials that they could freely integrate into their play encouraging them to engage in creative, social, and complex activities, such as building projects. Playgrounds were less beneficial in promoting STEM-related play types, as the playground equipment often limits what and how children can play leaving little room for their own ideas.
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Naturerfahrungen haben positive Wirkungen auf die seelische Entwicklung, Gesundheit und Wohlbefinden und können geradezu als ein Element eines „guten Lebens“ interpretiert werden. In diesem Buch wird dieser Zusammenhang auf Lern- und Bildungskontexte bezogen. Bei Bildungsprozessen geht es nicht nur um die Übernahme von relevanten Inhalten, sondern um eine Berührung, Konfrontation und Transformation des Subjekts. Die zentralen Annahmen dieses Buches sind erstens, dass eben dies durch Naturerfahrungen eröffnet werden kann, und zweitens, dass dies auch (fachliche) Lernprozesse positiv beeinflussen kann.
Humans have relied on an intimate relationship with nature for their personal growth, holistic development and ongoing survival. As practitioner-researchers and teacher-educators, the authors have developed a sense of unease with the heightening disengagement with the natural world. For children and adolescents living in highly urbanised and industrialised settings, re-wilding education can offer a myriad of psycho-social, emotional, intellectual and physical benefits. This chapter outlines ways in which re-wilding our classrooms with sensory rich outdoor activities and risk-taking experiences, can offer a potent vehicle for reflection and transformative learning. This pedagogical approach builds resilience, a sense of belonging, communication skills and critical thinking. We conclude outdoor learning undertaken in wilderness settings can be regarded as a superfood for alternative education settings.
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Previous studies have explained children’s experience of place and their special preferences for the unbuilt and unstructured environment. However, the impact of a natural environment on children’s learning and development has been a topic of low priority within child research and the importance of natural playscapes for children has also been neglected in physical planning. The present study focuses on a natural environment, a small forest, as a playscape for children. The forest was used by a kindergarten as a supplement to their traditional outdoor playground and the impact such a landscape might have on children’s motor development was investigated through an experimental study on kindergarten children aged 5, 6 and 7 years of age. The landscape was described and analyzed by methods of landscape ecology and geomorphology implemented in a geographical information system (GIS). We found that the natural landscape had qualities to meet the children’s needs for a stimulating and varied play environment. Landscape ecology metrics showed high values for diversity, evenness and heterogeneity for the study area. The diversity of vegetation and topography corresponded to function-related structures that afforded versatile play. The study indicated a strong relation between landscape structure and play functions. The diversity of the vegetation was related to phytosociology and physiognomy, while the diversity of topography was related to slope and roughness. Diversity in landscape elements such as vegetation and topography might be considered a dimension of quality for a natural playscape. This playscape comprised the ground for training of motor fitness in children. Through all-round playing and exploring the natural playscape, the children’s motor fitness was improved. This proved the learning effects from a natural playscape on children’s motor abilities. This paper will focus mainly on the landscape descriptions and the affordance of versatile play.
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Physical inactivity contributes to weight gain in adults, but whether this relationship is true for children of different ethnic groups is not well established. To assess participation in vigorous activity and television watching habits and their relationship to body weight and fatness in US children. Nationally representative cross-sectional survey with an in-person interview and medical examination. SETTING and Between 1988 and 1994, 4063 children aged 8 through 16 years were examined as part of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey III. Mexican Americans and non-Hispanic blacks were oversampled to produce reliable estimates for these groups. Episodes of weekly vigorous activity and daily hours of television watched, and their relationship to body mass index and body fatness. Eighty percent of US children reported performing 3 or more bouts of vigorous activity each week. This rate was lower in non-Hispanic black and Mexican American girls (69% and 73%, respectively). Twenty percent of US children participated in 2 or fewer bouts of vigorous activity perweek, and the rate was higher in girls (26%) than in boys (17%). Overall, 26% of US children watched 4 or more hours of television per day and 67% watched at least 2 hours per day. Non-Hispanic black children had the highest rates of watching 4 or more hours of television per day (42%). Boys and girls who watch 4 or more hours of television each day had greater body fat (P<.001) and had a greater body mass index (P<.001) than those who watched less than 2 hours per day. Many US children watch a great deal of television and are inadequately vigorously active. Vigorous activity levels are lowest among girls, non-Hispanic blacks, and Mexican Americans. Intervention strategies to promote lifelong physical activity among US children are needed to stem the adverse health consequences of inactivity.
This article is a contribution to the experience of testing motor fitness and exploring the EUROFIT test in young children. In the age group 5-7 years, the motor fitness tests showed strong dependency on age and a small dependence on sex. Body weight and height did not appear to have any impact on the test variables for this age group. The reliability test showed significant difference between test and retest in the plate tapping test only. The reproducibility was low in bent arm hang and flamingo balance, with coefficients of variation of 67%. Modest validity of the flamingo balance test and the standing broad jump test was confirmed with correlations of 0.43 and 0.52, respectively, by laboratory testing on a force platform. Factor analyses extracted 3 components, which explained 62% of the total variance, but no single component could explain general motor fitness. The EUROFIT Motor Fitness Test appeared to be applicable also in young children, but the reproducibility of two test items was questionable. Modification of test items was suggested to fit this age group.
Environmental design research and participation can enable groups with different environmental values to negotiate critical design decisions. This article presents findings and techniques from two open space projects—one a neighbourhood playground, the other an elementary schoolyard—found to be useful in clarifying differences in open space values and preferences. Specific differences between child and adult views of these places are reviewed. How participation and research was utilized to help resolve basic open space differences is discussed. The article concludes with a brief review of future issues facing research and design participation.
The school health records of 302 persons from the village of Röros, Norway, were scrutinized concerning the notes made by the author when performing a routine school health examination of all the subjects, then aged 16, in the years 1970-73. The notes concerning assessment of posture, findings on muscle palpation, subjective complaints and decisions of therapeutic measures were recorded and classified. A follow-up study was made in 1982 by sending the subjects a questionnaire asking information on subjective complaints, health care consumption and incapacity due to cervical and low-back pain during the follow-up period of 9-12 years. Information was obtained from 98% of the material. The initial findings at the school health examination were considered as risk factors, and the reported morbidity during follow-up period as outcome measures. Morbidity from cervical and low-back pain in the groups with and without each risk factor was then compared. The results show that muscular tension in adolescence, especially in the neck and shoulders, is a significant risk factor for later excess morbidity from cervical pain. No consistent risk factor for lumbar pain was found. Cervical pain occurred more frequently in the females than in the males, while there was no difference between the sexes in the occurrence of lumbar pain. Lumbar pain tends to be somewhat more incapacitating than cervical pain.