Outdoor Play Environments Designed and Assessed Based on a Sense of Wonder

Topic Progress:

A sense of wonder is central to children wanting to explore, experiment and discover. A sense of wonder is foundational for learning. According to Rachel Carson (1998) if children are to keep alive their inborn sense of wonder, they need the companionship of at least one adult who can share it, rediscovering with them the joy, excitement and mystery of the world around them. She believed that children benefit from being in environments where they can listen to the winds, observe the trees and the flowers and the rain and the water, and hear birds or frogs. From an early learning perspective, she believed that the environments needed to have variety and be “awe-inspiring”.

Inspired by the work of Rachel Carson, Dietze & Kim (2014) created an assessment tool that examines outdoor play environmental designs from the perspectives of key elements of nature, early learning curriculum, and the roles of families and early learning teachers. To find out more about the areas that are assessed, click on the caption below the picture.


An Assessment Tool


Dietze & Kim (2014) identified that for each of the elements presented, there are specific rating indicators used to assess each zone.  For example, ideally there are more than six flexible zones within each play space where children can utilize space for more than two purposes.  There would be more than three seasonal spaces at any one time.