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Young children, the outdoors and nature
Young children, the outdoors and nature

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2.3 The young explorer

In this section you are going to look more closely at a young child, Liam, exploring his outdoor environment.

Activity 2 The young explorer

Timing: Allow 15 minutes

Read the quotation below from Watts (2011) about what constitutes effective surfaces and stimuli for babies and young children.

… younger babies are often calmed by the movement of leaves and trees and will respond to different textures of plants around them. As they become more mobile, consider whether you can present changes in floor levels, a small slope, stepping stones sunk into the ground or low-level steps. Different floor textures could be used for different parts of a ‘baby space’. Toddlers enjoy moving things around and will become totally absorbed by a muddy puddle or some large pebbles. Long grass provides a different experience and also an area of moss gives another interesting texture. Raised grassy banks, logs or sunken tyres can give opportunities for babies to pull themselves up. They need to be able to explore, to walk or crawl into small spaces. Think about bamboo screens or bushes that give this hideaway feel.

(Watts, 2011, p. 18)

Now watch this video. Liam, a 13-month-old boy, explores his local outdoor space as the commentator highlights Liam’s learning. As you watch focus on how Liam is exploring and using his environment. What evidence do you see that fits with Watts’ quotation about what outdoor spaces for children should contain? What do you think could enhance Liam’s outdoor environment even more? Don’t forget to record your responses in your Learning journal or text box below.

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You might have noticed that, just as Watts (2011) suggested, Liam explores different floor textures like gravel and cracked tarmac which offers opportunities for exploration and changes in floor levels. Watts argued that toddlers enjoy moving things around; you might have spotted how Liam is enthralled in moving the pieces of gravel and tarmac around and becomes absorbed by the iron grate in the alleyway. She also suggests that they like to explore small spaces; Liam explores the small space of the washing up bowl by getting inside, and shows curiosity in the water gully too by dropping pebbles into it. To enhance Liam’s outdoor experience, he could be guided to explore the bushes in the back lane to give him the opportunity to hideaway, too.