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Research: How children use spaces and materials in outdoor play


A small-scale study conducted in Norway shows the dynamic relationship between how children use spaces and materials in the Early Childhood Education and Care’s (ECEC) outdoor environment to engage in different types of play. This includes the association between spaces such as sandboxes and children’s engagement in constructive play.

The dynamic relationship between outdoor environments and children’s play study undertaken by Ellen Beate Hansen Sandseter, Rune Storli and Ole Johan Sando from Queen Maud University College of Early Childhood Education, also examined children’s engagement with other types of play, including symbolic play.

To collect the data for this research, 10 children aged three to six years old each in eight ECEC institutions in Norway were observed in two-minute sequences during the day when they were free to choose what to do. The data consists of 935 randomly recorded two-minute videos, which were coded second by second to register the type of play occurring, the space in which it happened and the materials children used.

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