Betwixt the Wild, Unknown and the Safe: Play and the Affordances of Nature within an Early Childhood Education and Care Institution in Norway.
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Original versionInternational Journal of Early Childhood Environmental Education. 2015, 3 (1), 28-38.
This article deals with the opportunities for children to experience nature within an Early Childhood Education and Care Institution in Norway, drawing on a case study of a day care institution that, among other things, focuses on nature and outdoor life. The results of the study show that the children and staff of the ECEC institution are creating outdoor practices that focus on physical activity, play and friendship among the children. Through play, the children explore and learn the affordances of nature. The staff plays an important role in facilitating the nature play of children, drawing on a view that nature is a sanctuary and an alternative to the hustle and the bustle to regular day care life. Simultaneously, the staff plays an important role in balancing the different concerns of the institution, like the question of sec urity and safety while outdoor in nature, the available resources and personal situation and the cultural and pedagogical ideals of children’s free and self-initiated play in nature. The article argues that attention has to be directed towards the opportu nity of the staff to create and negotiate the institutional space that ensures the opportunities for children to experience nature on their own terms through play.