UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Inside out : young children learning within nature White, Ruby Jane


The purpose of this research was to expand understanding of the potential value of the natural outdoors as a learning environment for young children. Within the frame of The United Nations Rights of the Child and social constructivist learning theory, this qualitative case study explores young children’s perspectives through their self chosen points of interest within the natural outdoors of their early learning setting. The research site was within an urban/rural interface community in Southwestern Coastal British Columbia. Eight child participants between 3-5 years of age assumed the role of participant researchers to create digital photographs of their outdoor interests, which served as the primary data source. These photographs were supported by video recordings of the children’s ordinary moments outdoors and researcher field notes. The data was coded and categorized using the constant comparison method, resulting in 7 categories and 3 subcategories that revealed the children’s primary interests and points of connection outdoors, as being within and between nature, manufactured objects and people. These points of connection were then merged and discussed within the broader theme of Interfaces and Connections. The discussion includes: categories of interest, contrasts and interactions as they relate to the child/nature literature, early learning practice, children’s rights and social constructivist theory. Also noted is the children’s use of multiple perspectives and their self chosen verbal silences. The limitation and strengths of the research are acknowledged and followed by implications for practice and invitations for future research.

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