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‘Oh no, the stick keeps falling!’: An analytical framework for conceptualising young children’s interactions during free play in a woodland setting
Journal of Early Childhood Research, Volume: 19, Issue: 3, Pages: 337 - 354
Swansea University Author: Jacky Tyrie
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DOI (Published version): 10.1177/1476718x20983861
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 child...
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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’.
Early years; interactions; woodland setting; analytical framework; free play
Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences