Features and Benefits

For many early learning teachers, playing outdoors at the brookside, climbing trees, or splashing in the large puddles is engrained in our childhood memories. Move the clock forward to children today. They spend less time outdoors than ever before. Children have lost the freedom to explore their outdoor environments, connect with nature, and engage in many play experiences that may be classified as “risky”.  

There is great debate among professionals and families about outdoor play. Where should children play? Will outdoor play provide children with the foundational skills needed for later academic performance? Do children become ill from being outdoors? Isn’t it a time for children to “run off steam”? These are all great questions that require discussion so that collectively families and early learning teachers have a clear understanding of the importance of outdoor play to children’s overall learning and development.

This title is timely because of the new national and international research that reinforces the importance of outdoor play in the lives of children—for their health, wellness, dispositions, and connectedness to their childhood space and place. Outdoor play is so important to children’s daily living that our authors wrote  this book to present the core concepts about outdoor play that will support teachers in collectively examining outdoor play within their environments and beyond.

Vision for the 1st Edition:

  • Support early learning students in exploring the various components that contribute to an outdoor play pedagogy;
  • Create opportunities for readers to question, imagine, reflect, and explore further research that would support them in gaining insight into the depth and breadth of outdoor play;
  • Combine the historical roots of outdoor play with the contemporary research in order to facilitate discussions on outdoor pedagogy and nature, the approaches to outdoor play programming, and how the outdoors positions children for later academic learning;
  • Present discourse and perspectives that would stimulate discussions among early learning students and teachers on the why, how, when, and where of outdoor play;
  • Emphasize how the attitudes and values that early learning teachers and students place on outdoor play influence how children embrace this phase of their programming;
  • Share photos of children embraced in a variety of outdoor play experiences as many of the photos can spark opportunities to emulate similar options for children through materials, questioning, and role modeling; and
  • Contribute to early childhood education students developing a new lens for outdoor play and developing a passion for and commitment to ensuring children

Each chapter contains the following features:

  • Epigraph A quote from an historical influencer of early childhood education to support the antecedents of the concept of outdoor play that leads into a section to elicit the reader’s own memories of playing and learning outdoors.
  • Childhood Memories A childhood memory designed to evoke thinking and reflection about the benefits and importance of outdoor play learning in and with nature.
  • Chapter Preview A chapter preview to provide the reader with an overview of what to expect in the pages ahead.
  • Learning Outcomes Six to eight learning outcomes for the reader to detail the expected learning to take place.
  • Positioning Outdoor Play in the Lives of Children An introduction to the importance of children being engaged in an array of experiences that support their overall health and development.
  • Setting the Stage for Outdoor Play Examples of how outdoor play experiences, environments, and people in the environments contributeto children’s experiences and learning opportunities.
  • Our Vision for Outdoor Play The authors’ vision as it pertains to the focus of the chapter for early learning programmingoutdoors.
  • Theoretical Foundation A section that defines and gives background to the content of each chapter as well as provides a historical perspective and the influence of theorists who have contributed to the current movement for active outdoor play.
  • Practical Applications Descriptors of how theory informs practice and how early learning teachers draw upon theory to inform their outdoor play planning and practice.
  • Principles of Practice Different sets of principles of action or conduct for those working with children outdoors to support children’s active play and learning are addressed in each chapter.
  • Learning in Place Possible places where children can develop an emotional, physical, and spiritual connection.
  • Programming Various programming experiences described and illustrated, using framework focused on planning, engagement, exploration and reflection.
  • Family Support Suggestions for engaging and supporting families for the student to fully support children’s learning, growth, and development.
  • Accessibility and Design Answers to questions about accessibility and design as it pertains to children with exceptionalities in the provision of outdoor play.
  • Tools and Tips for Outdoor Play
  • Suggestions for using technology and tools to enhance outdoor programming and professional learning around outdoor play.
  • On the Ground – Professional Reflections: “Why I Love Outdoor Play” Real stories from real early learning teachers to highlight professionals currently practicing in theearly learning sector who think deeply and intentionally about the ideas and concepts presented.
  • Case Study Case studies that invite the reader to reflect on related questions as they situate outdoor play in various contexts.
  • Take It Outside! Suggestions for adult-centred outdoor experiences to help increase the comfort level early learning students have with nature.
  • Key Terms and Summary Key terms and a bulleted summary that reflect the chapter’s contents.
  • Quiet Reflection Questions for the reader can reflect on personally that foster an outdoor learning mindset, while recognizing that self-reflection is an important feature of professional learning.
  • Community Dialogue The perspectives of others that lead to a broader, more complex understanding of the chapter’s contents, including suggestions that support the development of a community of learners.
  • For Further Thought and Action
  • Links that may lead to further thought as well as suggestions for action as changing societal norms as they relate to active outdoor play requires advocacy and action.
  • Resources Descriptions and links to additional resources that can add to the discussions about the importance of outdoor play to children’s development.