Children, Outdoor Play, and Loose Parts

Caileigh Flannigan, Beverlie Dietze


In an effort to understand how loose parts in early learning environments benefit children’s play and development, through observations of preschool children in a rural outdoor natural environment, this study examined behaviours that children exhibited as they used loose parts. Children exhibited a range of positive social behaviours, complex verbal and nonverbal behaviours, and various types of risk taking in their play. The findings suggest that children do not explicitly exhibit stereotypical gender or age-exclusion behaviours while using the loose parts. The results would suggest that increasing children’s opportunities to use loose parts in an early years outdoor environment will support their various aspects of development in positive ways.


outdoor play; loose parts; early childhood development; unstructured play; natural environments; play development

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Copyright (c) 2018 Caileigh Flannigan, Beverlie Dietze

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Journal of Childhood Studies is supported by the Canadian Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council