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'Oh no, the stick keeps falling!’: An analytical framework of young children’s interactions during free play in a woodland setting

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journal contribution
posted on 17.01.2022, 15:04 by Cheryl Ellis, Gary Beauchamp, Sian Sarwar, Jacky Tyrie, Dylan Adams, Sandra Dumitrescu, Chantelle Haughton
It is widely accepted that play and ‘free play’ in particular, is beneficial to young children’s holistic development. However, there is a lack of evidence of the role that the natural environment can have in relation to young children’s play. This study examined the elements of ‘free play’ of children aged 4–5 years within a woodland university campus setting. The children chose to wear camera glasses which recorded both the gaze and speech of the individual. This provided a valuable insight into the ‘free play’ of the children and provided a rich data set to enable the development of an analytical framework which maps out the interactions which took place during the ‘free play’ within the woodland environment. Results showed that the children engaged in six key interactions including interactions with the natural environment as part of their play, including the use of sticks, leaves and branches as tools and props ‘as is’ (i.e. in its current form) and ‘as if’ (in conjunction with children’s imaginations). The framework highlights key aspects of their play which tended to be autonomous, child led and imaginary. Recommendations for future research include the use of the framework in alternative environments to explore the impact of different physical environments on the interactions of children within their ‘free play’.

History

Published in

Journal of Early Childhood Research

Publisher

Sage

Acceptance Date

17/11/2020

Publication Date

31/01/2021

Version

VoR (Version of Record)

Citation

Ellis, C., Beauchamp, G., Sarwar, S., Tyrie, J., Adams, D., Dumitrescu, S., and Haughton, C. ‘Oh no, the stick keeps falling!’: An analytical framework of young children’s interactions during free play in a woodland setting. Journal of Early Childhood Research. https://doi.org/10.1177/1476718X20983861

Print ISSN

1476-718X

Electronic ISSN

1741-2927

Cardiff Met Affiliation

  • Cardiff School of Education and Social Policy

Copyright Holder

© The Authors

Language

en