How does play in the outdoors afford opportunities for schema development in young children?

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    This paper explores children's use of schemas to construct their knowledge and understanding within the outdoor learning environment. It considers how a knowledge of schemas can facilitate practitioners to inform early years pedagogy. Further, it examines how the affordance of resources in the outdoors can nurture children's schemas. It charts different children's learning journeys over two terms and how ‘coming to know’ about their schemas, facilitated practitioners' different perceptions, shaping classroom pedagogy both indoors and outdoors. The research explores how loose parts and their affordance can nurture schematic development. Findings suggest that the outdoors affords greater engagement of the senses, freedom of space, enabling children to use the ‘loose parts’ in ways that are unique to them. Movements are greater, creativity is deeper, and schemas are overtly witnessed during outdoor play, where the self-governance of the play itself enables schematic development.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)184-201
    Number of pages18
    JournalInternational Journal of Play
    Issue number2
    Early online date8 Apr 2022
    Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 8 Apr 2022


    • Schema
    • outdoors
    • loose parts
    • play
    • affordance theory


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