The Value of Bronfenbrenner’s Ecological Systems Framework in Relation to Outdoor Play

Topic Progress:

The ecological framework has become a foundation for understanding how children’s life experiences relate to their engagement in outdoor play.  How early learning teachers define children, families, childhood, and play will depend on their:


Research suggests that early learning teachers who engage in professional development related to outdoor play are more likely to provide children with experiences that support children’s development. When adults have the knowledge about why children require freedom to experiment, observe, engage in trial and error play, and act upon their curiosity, they are better able to support providing children with an array of experiences in the early learning program and community.  Children who are exposed to adults that have had interesting outdoor experiences, are curious about exploring and discovering, and value outdoor play will most likely have rich outdoor play and learning experiences.


Look at the picture above.  What, as an early learning teacher do you see, feel and think about the experience that the children are engaged in?  How are your knowledge, life experiences, educational background, sense of curiosity, values and philosophy influencing your response to this photo? 

Use the comments box to record your answers.


  1. Brigitte Levesque

    In this photo i remember as a child playing near a stream and just wondering what would happen if i threw a rock in the water. There learning how to balance, big and small rocks how fast the water is going. How to be careful and how to help each other out . Peer learning and participating. I find that i was influenced by my siblings to go play outside and go adventuring with them and my philosophy is if you don’t let them try how would you know if they can.

  2. Angela Hutton

    I am thrilled with what I see in this photo and it reminds me of my brothers growing up and how my nephews and niece were raised. So much freedom and exploration in this photo. From climbing, balancing, examining, comparing, cause and effect, learning about big and small, heavy and light there is so much learning going on. As an educator I would be amongst the children learning with them and celebrating their discoveries while drawing their attention to safely moving amongst the rocks. I can already hear myself saying, ” bend your knees as you step from one rock to another to help you balance, hands out of your pockets when you are moving from one rock to another.”

  3. Candy holloway

    I see the children enjoying the activity of choosing and throwing rocks. I think they are having an opportunity to take part in risky play, it initially concerned me as to their safety as the children above may throw a rock that hits another child down below. I believe this is due to constant concern with risks from my mother as a child. but knowing the benefit and that realizing these children might not throw with enuf force to seriously harm another child alleviates my initial worry. Also, the teacher likely knows the children very well and that she has determined the risk is low in comparison to all the opportunities to learn things such as the stability of the rocks they are standing on and if they will move , how far they can throw and if it will reach the water, they may be taking turns throwing, helping each other retrieve rocks that are stuck, learning how big the rock is in relation to size and if it can be lifted, the different colors of the rocks, if the different sizes make different size splashes.
    As i reflect the my curiosity and previous experience of these type actvities make me want to be there! My knowledge and philosophy of outdoor play help me realize the opportunity and benefits that overide my quick sense of potential danger.

  4. Naznin Dhanani

    The picture reminds me of growing up and as I reflect upon the photograph, I feel these children are benefitting from being outdoors. Experiences that are outdoors in nature and water ground you and build your self-esteem and confidence. Throwing rocks and listening to the sounds give you a sense of calmness.

  5. Geri-Lynn Cajindos

    My knowledge, life experiences, educational background, sense of curiosity, values and philosophy influence my response to this picture with great excitement! Although the water may be running, and has a significant depth, likely not acceptable to licencing and safety standards, can can see that it’s still shallow enough to wack through, and most of the children have significant foot ware. I see opportunity to compare the rocks on one side of the water to the other… why are the rocks rough edged on one side, yet look smooth on the other? How does the weight of each rock compare to another? How big or little of a splash can one make? How far can you SAFELY throw the rock without putting anyone/thing in danger? There is plenty of opportunity to learn about cause and effect, discuss safety issues and how to overcome them, as well as possible family concerns (like wet clothes) and problem solve ways to work around those, while still having the freedom to play and explore. This picture reminds me of many hours of memorable outdoor play for me as a child, as well as my own children growing up with this play made available.

  6. Corina Manasseri

    Planned activity since it is near a body of running water, this photo is demonstrating children exploring their outdoor environment of weathering and erosion of rocks and maybe looking for fossils. In my Algonquin culture the rocks the children are playing in are called “shale” they are a type of sedimentary rock that were used to make sharp tools for cutting. On the other side of the river is where the body of water rises that is why the rocks are lighter colour and round.

  7. Susan Holt

    I am wondering why that one child is off by himself and if he is going to throw the rock at somebody. I am also wondering where the teacher is given that the children are so close to the water. The children who are engaged in exploring the rocks seem to be fully engaged. I am also noticing that there are no girls in this photo.

  8. Shirley Suttak

    In this experience depicted in the photo. I see children having freedom and exploring and engaging in risky play with their peers. They are all focused in their sensory exploration and trial and error opportunities. The one child looks like hes about to throw the rock so maybe he has had previous life experience with skipping rocks or he may be testing out his own ideas of what would happen if he throws it. I do not see an educator in the photo but I hope there is one there that is just not interfering but is listening, observing and documenting this experience to share with the children`s families and who is there to support children and manage any risks. I think my life experiences influences how I see and feel about this photo. Growing up in the country and going camping a lot I had many positive enjoyable experiences playing with rocks and boulders. Also the knowledge of how children learn and the benefits of outdoor play does influence my view as I want the best opportunities for children . I always believed children learn through hands on play and stimulating environments with opportunities to explore,be curious test out their ideas and take reasonable risks.

  9. Wendy Gilchrist

    Brings back memories of my childhood. Climbing on rocks, throwing rocks into the water ( no adults stopping the fun believing it is unsafe). Observing and collecting rocks, filling up pockets with rocks to take home , having a contest with a peer on who could make the biggest splash with a rock or throw it the furthest. Good old unstructured play!!!

  10. Jackie Eaton

    These children see so engaged in what they are doing and thus learning things such as how to move on uneven ground, how to stay balanced, the difference between the feel of grass and stone, the weight of different rocks, how to throw. My own live experiences provide me with excitement when I look at this picture. I can imagine the many stories that will be shared of the adventure.

  11. Heather

    Love the experiences I see these children having. Water, rocks, climbing (balance), engagement, freedom….what a positive experience for these children!

  12. marie-france bourgoin-leger

    Playing near an open water site, on shaking ground…this could be seen has dangerous for sure! But, seeing these children engage and playing together is beautiful. Seing that boy throwing a rock, others searching for the perfect rock to throw is fascinating. Do we need to look and make sure that nobody falls in the water? Of course! Letting children play outside and in nature doesn’t mean to let down of our guard, but help them see the danger and help them make decisions based on it.

  13. Francine Bolduc

    The children are really engaged in what they are doing. It might be scary for adults to let children play near the water, the jagged rocks and throwing rocks. What really surprised me, is that I was more worried about the child with the rock in his hand, ready to throw it as children usually have the worst aim. Children are learning how to play safely, taking risks, connecting with peers, connect with the outdoors. They are lucky children to have adults let them play this way.

  14. Gaye Ferguson

    The children are excitedly, fully engaged in their play and the environment. Figuring out how to balance on rocks, maybe slipping and adjusting themselves, they are aware of the water gurgling by but are more interested in the rocks at the moment. Perhaps they have already gone over the safety rules about not getting too close. Perhaps their caring adult will lead them a bit later to the edge. As someone with a bit of a background in injury prevention and childhood safety through being a CAPC coordinator for many years, I’m a bit nervous looking at boys playing near water, as boys have much higher drowning rate than girls. I have trust that professionally training EY teachers/ECEs will operate with proper judgement. Not to scare kids or stop their exploration, but how to guide them to feel out their limits and acceptable risks.

  15. Casey Holland

    Looking at this photo makes me feel excited for these children and their good fortune that the people responsible for them have afforded them such a wonderful experience. I feel like there is so much for them to explore and learn from this area, as well as just enjoying it.
    My own life experiences as a child is reflected here in this photo – I was luck enough to grow up in a neighbourhood on a river similar to this and my mother grew up on a town on the ocean, so she has a deep-seeded love of being near the water. As a result I feel that there is a wide range of activities and learning opportunities to be found near the water, as well as plenty of opportunity to discuss safety and boundaries.

  16. Rashida Samar

    In the picture children enjoying being outdoor and specially near water. Each child is carefully and vigilantly climbing the big rocks fearlessly some standing and some trying to use their best criteria and best way to climb down.

  17. Vicki Pollock

    I really want to be with these children! I can imagine all they are learning as they manouvre the hill of rocks, find just the right one to throw, discover how far they can throw, and share in each others discoveries. I can hear the water bubbling over the rocks and smell the breeze. We could look for fish or frogs or maybe even see a bird. Are we allowed to go wading? That would be fun. So much to do, so much to learn, and so much fun!
    I spent a big part of my life outdoors. I was allowed to explore the natural enviroment on my own. My dad especially took a big interest in the discoveries I made on my own or ones we made together (he also loved the outdoors and was a big influence in my life in this area). I remember watching ants clean out entry ways to their homes underground, helping my younger brother release a fish he’d caught but didn’t want to keep, helping plant vegetables and flowers with mom and grampy, building “camps” in the woods with friends, and so many other activities in the great outdoors.
    I am very curious by nature and expect that curiousity was encouraged by my family lifestyle. I am a trained Early Childhood Educator, and have been working in the field for over 20 years; which helps me understand what children may be learning in a scene like this.
    I believe there is no classroom that matches the outdoor classroom concerning opportunities for children (and sometimes adults) to learn.

  18. Talor Benson-Harper

    Water has always made me on the nervous side – maybe due to the fact that growing up water play was limited to swimming lessons, pools with life jackets, etc. That being said – exploring near the water most definitely teaches children about boundaries and safety as a great learning experience. I as a parent now bring my boy to the water and he has been able to figure out where is safe to stand near water to explore and when he needs something like a life jacket in case of slipping, etc.

  19. Marie-Claude Pilon

    I agree with Farnaz,I too was able to playing outside in the local field and forest with friends. It was great! Unfortunately the picture those not show diversity!!!

  20. Farnaz Karimizadeh

    In this photo,I see ,children are playing on uneven rocks which is a kind of “risky” play.They are given freedom to explore and learn through their different senses.It is a great opportunity for them to develop their different domains of development.
    As an ECE who has spent most of my childhood at outdoor play , I response to this photo positively and I do my best to promote this kind of learning opportunity.

  21. Sasha Patterson

    In this photo I see children engaged in acceptable risk behaviour. They are testing their limits, boundaries and skills through motor functions, experimentation and peer cooperation. My background provides me with chance to see this play as a great learning opportunity.

  22. Jade Brass

    This picture for me shows freedom to explore, opportunity to test abilities and adventure. This picture also shows me that these children understand how mighty the water is and having boundaries and the knowledge to know to keep their distance from the edge. So much learning is going on in this picture for example who can throw the rock the furthest, who can find certain shapes in the rocks, how does a stone skip on the water there is so much opportunity with just this one photo and I find that so exciting for the children and for the educator.

  23. Sharon Evenden

    I see seven boys all engaged in discovery. Can I throw this rock, can I climb down/up this pile? One child is observing what another is doing. None of them seem bored. I see great opportunity for muscle growth. They are learning about the texture of the rocks and there are probably alot of sounds to identify. Great experience all are engaged.

  24. Kayley Bach

    In this photo I see children play and exploring with their peers, I see them having fun and learning new skills. The only concern I would have is if the boy throwing the rock is throwing it towards others. If its an open space I think it is a great way to explore and learn. Cause and effect of throwing rocks into water and seeing the big splash.

  25. Brie Schuler

    I see children who are engaged, inquisitive and exploring their environment. As an educator, I am a big worried about how close they are to moving water and how steep the slope of rocks are. However, I believe that this environment is a great area for outdoor learning, as children are able to exhibit skills such as hand eye coordination, balance, climbing, palmer/pincer grasp, throwing and more. I believe if the environment provides an abundance of learning opportunities, it is important to allow children to explore the area as long as it is safe to do so.

  26. MAT

    I see adventure, curiosity and exploration in the picture.

  27. Stephen Roberts

    I see children enjoying the outdoor experience, they seem curious and inquisitive. I had similar experiences as a child therefore find this photo comforting. I try and have experiences like this with my children when at the ravine etc.

  28. Crystal Thring

    The kids are learning so much and the adult needs to reinforce rules that are for safety and let them explore.
    I see so many things:
    -how far can I throw this rock?
    -will the rock float or sink?
    -big, bigger, biggest rock
    -working together to get a big rock out
    -walking safely to get close to the water
    -helping each other with rocks
    -what is under the rocks?
    -let’s paint a rock

  29. Yiyun Zhang

    In the picture, children were interacting with their peers and learning from their peers. They tried to balance their bodies and walked on the rocky slope which involved their gross motor skills and problem-solving skills. They might compare with the size and weight of the rock, and how far they could throw. They tested their limits. I love the activity set for the children. It provided ample opportunities and space for children to explore freely. I am a little worried about the risk of children falling into the steam. I might stand down to the slope between the children and the steam.

  30. Jennifer Dyson

    I see all children engaged as they search for rocks and some throwing their rocks. What I don’t see, and value this, is no plastic and no electronics. What an absolute delightful experience for these children. No budget to worry about or worrying about having enough materials for everyone to participate or being a level for all children to enjoy. It encompasses choice of how to use the materials and supports their curiosity and freedom to explore. As a mother, who had taken her daughters to a river to do this very same thing, it brings back wonderful memories and shows outdoor play, such as this activity, stands the test of time.

  31. Shannon Jarvis

    I see an amazing opportunity for children to learn. I have had a great deal of experience in the outdoors and would be very comfortable in this scenario. I think this allows children to take risks while experiencing their environment. It gives you an opportunity to talk about safety in different environments and allows everyone to explore their curiosity.

  32. Shannon Jarvis

    I see an amazing opportunity for children to learn. I have had a great deal of experience in the outdoors and would be very comfortable in this scenario. I think this allows children to take risks while experiencing their environment. It gives you an opportunity to talk about safety in different environments and allows everyone to explore their curiosity.

  33. Shawna Diduck

    What, as an early learning teacher do you see, feel and think about the experience that the children are engaged in? How are your knowledge, life experiences, educational background, sense of curiosity, values and philosophy influencing your response to this photo?

    Growing up in a small town we got to play outdoors and play in ditches with water in them or creeks and throw rocks into it. Looking at the picture it looks like the children are engaged in exploratory play, developing the whole child through their experiences. As long as there is active supervision the children should be free to explore and engage in the play.

  34. T Y

    What, as an early learning teacher do you see, feel and think about the experience that the children are engaged in? How are your knowledge, life experiences, educational background, sense of curiosity, values and philosophy influencing your response to this photo?

    I see a group of children who are engrossed in their play as they seem to pick up stones to throw into the river. I see a sense of independence in risk taking but also sense that there is an awareness of safety. If this was my group of children I would be at the bottom to make sure I’m close by in case someone gets too close to the water’s edge. My nephew slipped into a pond when her was 4 years old. He had squatted down on his feet and was just looking at the ducks when slipped on the dirt into the water. His full body went under in seconds and I was able to grab some hair at the top of his head to pull him out. Because of this I am extra watchful and present when children play close to water.

  35. Katie Dowdle

    As I grew up in a city neighbourhood where it wasn’t safe for me to be unsupervised in my own backyard there is a part of me that gets very nervous seeing these children on the rocks so close to the water without an adult obviously right there. That being said, there is climbing and balancing being worked on, as well as the feeling of picking up, holding, and throwing various materials.

  36. HeidiK

    The first thing I feel is there should be staff at the bottom of the rocks by the water for safety. On a scale of 1 to 5 on the risky play scale this is probably about a five for me. I’m uncomfortable. But given the age and the foot wear the children have I feel more secure taking myself out of the equation and looking at all the potential of learning for them. My life experience I never had much outdoor play as a child. I am not really comfortable outdoors. But I am able to recognize that it’s not about me, it’s about the children

  37. June

    From this picture, I can see that the children are learning many things from the environment that they’re in. There’s rocks of varying sizes and there is a slight slope down towards the water’s edge, so the children are learning to problem solve and navigate their way down and at the same time, testing what their bodies are capable of doing as there can be risk associated with going down, what with the rocks being loose and there being a chance of slipping. It also looks like the children may be searching for a specific size or shape of rock, maybe testing out what happens when they throw the rock into the river or possibly they will engage in a game of skipping the rock?
    As a child, I had the freedom to explore outdoors but most of the time it was without adult supervision and it was with peers both of the same age and older. Even though I had these experiences, I don’t feel like I have the knowledge to support children while they’re in the outdoor environment. I also feel discomfort when seeing this picture, mainly because of my fear of (large) bodies of moving water and I think this fear will have an impact on how I can support children in their learning if I were in that situation.

  38. Kerrie Sinclair

    In this photo I see a lot of things happening. I see children throwing rocks, I see children climbing over the rocks. I see them watching one another. I see them balancing on the uneven surface. They have the freedom to explore knowing that they’re safe to do so.

  39. Kaio Esau

    This photo is wonderful; however, as the child of a helicopter parent, this was not something that happened often for me and it has impacted how I view outdoor play. I was always told to be careful, watch where you’re going, you’re going to get hurt. I now have to catch myself before I repeat the same things to my child and the children in our daycare facility as I have learned and appreciate the benefits of this type of play (and encourage it daily, much to the chagrin of my mother).

  40. Donna Legere

    I see children who have early learning educators that believe in risk taking and exploring all that the life near water has to offer. I see children learning how to walk in rough, steep terrain and learning how to use the space that they are in. Children are learning possibly what water sounds like as it flows past them, learning about different sizes of rocks and the temperature of the water.
    The are not wearing water safety gear, so that would be something that I would definitely have on them, obviously the early learning educators are comfortable with this and that the children have learnt from their culture and or family members the importance of being safe near and around water.

  41. Amy

    When I look at this photo I see a lot of learning happening. There are children throwing rocks in the water, there are children climbing, and children watching their peers! This photo makes me feel a sense of purpose. It is wonderful to see so much learning and exploring happening in one picture. My own experience, knowledge, and beliefs influence my perception greatly. As a small child I often spent time climbing rocks in our neighborhood as well as throwing various size stones in the water on the beach at our summer cottage. This picture gives me a strong sense of nostalgia.

  42. Kirsten Rosberg

    I see children enjoying an experience outside. They are exploring the rocks and the stream. I can see danger is this photo. There is a risk that the children throw the rocks and it hits someone. This is a good teaching moment to explain how to observe their environment and pay attention to where they are throwing. The stream also poses a risk. If a child falls in they will be wet, and an even worse they can be pulled under or downstream. Creating boundaries and rules can make this a safe environment for children to explore and learn from. They don’t need to be withheld from this rich environment but taught how to engage safely.
    I have grown up exploring the outdoors without direct adult supervision and going camping every summer. I had a lot of outdoor experiences which taught me that I am safe and that we need to respect nature. I see the risks, and I am nervous, but I think that with proper boundaries, supervision and rules the benefits outweigh the risks.

  43. mvll

    I see a group of children exploring and playing in a rock pile along the shore of a river. I see many learning opportunities; the children can learn about different types of rocks (geology), about gravity/trajectory/mass when tossing rocks into the river. My knowledge could facilitate deeper understanding of the materials present, and extend the children’s vocabulary. My life experience could either allow them to play without limitations, or I may request they do not near the water for fear of drowning or ask them too keep rocks on the ground for fear of them hitting another child with a rock. My sense of curiosity could provide an opportunity for further exploration of the grounds and cause me to ask the children questions about what their experiencing as well as sharing my experience.

  44. DC

    This picture brings me back to the risky play of my childhood and as a mother the play of my own children down at the river and beaches we would visit. I have had the children I teach down at the beach, throwing rocks into the water, the sheer joy they have, the excitement at the plop of the water, I had just as much fun as they did. Of course, we talked about safety before heading out, ensuring that the children are part of the conversation, not just adults’ rules, but theirs also, not all children want to be splashed. The school we work out of is next to a creek, so safety and exploration go hand in hand when we are down checking out what is happening in the creek, it’s a natural part of our outside play. That is why I am very comfortable with the children being so close to the water’s edge, you just have see the smiles on the faces of the children, to know that you are providing opportunities for risky play and exploration that meets their needs.

  45. Louanne MacRae

    In this photo, I see children engaged in an exciting outdoor experience. It is risky, and I see and feel how thrilled the children are to be able to participate in an activity that every child should experience…throwing rocks into the water. Will they float? Will they sink? How far will they go? Can I make a big splash? There is so much learning going in, and as an ECE I would be recording every moment for the children to look back on and figure out what they might like to do next. Of course, before engaging in this adventure, I would have assessed the risk involved and made sure the environment was accessible and safe for everyone.

  46. Laura Barthelette

    The first thing I feel is horror at all these children so close to a river. After I move on from that, I see children engaged in important play. I understand that what these children are doing is important to their development and self-regulation. I am older, and started my day care career in a time of safety first. My first response to any new situation is to remove anything which may be a safety concern. I am working towards balancing that response with beneficial risky behaviour. I very much value outdoor play and am thrilled to see children having fun outdoors. That being said, I live on a river bank and have always allowed my children to play outdoors.

  47. Emma D. Rodilas

    This picture shows how children exposed to nature play. They are experiencing their five senses in this scenario. They were able to experience a sense of tactile weather the rocks are smooth or rough. By throwing the rocks or even holding it they feel the weight of each piece. Moreover, touching the water they can tell its temperature, cold, hot or warm. Socialization was being practiced thru peers.

  48. Tanya Morash

    Look at the picture above. What, as an early learning teacher do you see, feel and think about the experience that the children are engaged in? How are your knowledge, life experiences, educational background, sense of curiosity, values and philosophy influencing your response to this photo?

    I see children taking risks- climbing, crawling down over the rocks, I see children watching their peers and taking cues. Some are testing out theories- cause and effect by testing out rocks as they throw them into the water. They are learning about hard surfaces and different textures as they move over the rocks and pick through them. I see curiosity.
    As a child I loved throwing rocks into the water and still do. Trying to make the biggest splash or skip the most rocks. This type of experience is valued and encouraged. Allowing the children the opportunity to explore the space and test theories about the world around them. As the educator I would be right there alongside ensuring that safe risk taking was maintained.

  49. melissa gallant

    I love seeing the children playing and exploring the rocks. It reminds me of being a child and throwing rocks into the water and gathering different rocks up to collect.

  50. Bonnie Boyd

    I think that this experience is wonderful and valuable for the children. I feel joy in seeing the children engage in this natural space with the river. I am also concerned for the danger of being so close to an open body of water.
    Knowledge and educational background tells me that this play is valuable and important, but that drowning in small children is a true danger. As the educator I would be very vigilant about supervision and make sure the children know the stay out of the water.
    Life experience of growing up with a cabin andspendixnghours hopping rocks in the pond and catching frogs and minnows makes me want the children to have lots of experiences like this.
    My sense of curiosity, as an educator, would want me to observe how the children interact with this environment, and as a person would make me want to join in and see if the bigger rocks roll faster or make bigger splashes.
    My values as an environmental ambassador makes me thrilled to see children interacting with nature, because they are developing a love for it just as I did as a child. This type of play is right on par with my philosophy at my childcare centre, that our outdoor environment is our best teacher.

  51. Nikki Meyer

    I love this photo of this experience. I think children are learning about the weight of rocks, how they sound as they splash in the water or crash on the other rocks, and thier abilities to navigate the uneven terrain. I feel that the educators trust the childrens abilities and the children have confidence in taking risks. I believe my views are impacted by my education, the knowledge I have gained by talking with other educators, reading resources and my experience in working with programs that both believe in this type of play and ones that are apprehensive for allowing risk taking.

  52. Wendy Flegel

    I love that these children are being giving the freedom to explore the rocks and the river. Both of which could be risky. There is so much learning that is taking place.

  53. Sheila Maputi

    When I look at the picture the very first thing that come to my mind is “Programming & Environment” where theres a lot of space that function as the third teacher. The kids can engage in different activities here like tossing stone in the stream, build or balance stone as high as they can, they can build stone irrigation in the stream to see how fast or slow the flow of water will change, find different kinds of stone with different size, color and shape. If they want to swim or dip in the water, I’ll let them with close supervision. This will be a solid experience for them. Knowledge & educational background are all here…from sensory to science to cognitive name it. There will also be a lot of curiosity that will unveil on the process of playing in this kind of area. Values & philosophy can also be practice in this kind of space – observation and learning with their peers will be on top of it.

  54. Alison Rinas

    As an educator this photo brings me delight. I love the freedom and trust in which the children are given to explore the bank of the stream. I see the children learning texture, size, weight of the rocks, throwing , distance and possibly living creatures. As the children may finding bugs and other natural items under the rocks that bring fascination. Experience like this the chidlren will speak about for some time to come.

  55. Andrea Sabean

    As an educator who values outdoor play, this photo really makes me happy. The children are exploring, discovering, creating hypothesis and testing them out. The fact that I have been involved in many such experience with children have given me this positive reaction.

  56. Adriana Carrillo

    I see children engage, been able to take risks, be connect with their environment, imagining, working as a team, communicating between them. This photo brings to my mind beautiful memories of my childhood as I grew up in a small town where I spent most of my time playing at the riverbank, surrounded by mountains and lots of nature.

  57. Colleen Maclellan

    I see a group of children allowed to explore and learn through peer interaction, self-regulation, physical dev. and exploration. There is a sense of curiosity, a sense of freedom and wonderment. what ùi see them doing ticks all the boxes for me when it comes to allowing the children to explore and learn and develop various skills through outdoor play.

  58. Linda M. Mason

    This is a great learning area. The children are engaged in different experiences while playing close in an area. Some are exploring how the rocks are found, the different rocks and the weight and feel of the rocks while they are exploring a brook bank. This was my outdoor classroom as a child and children learn their boundaries as they satisfy their curiosity.

  59. Angela Gower

    In this picture, even though the children are in the same location with the same materials, they are engaged in different activities. Some are playing with the rocks, some are climbing, others are looking at the water. I love that nature is so open ended that even with a small amount of materials (like in this picture) there are so many opportunities. I value outdoor and risky play, so I am completely comfortable with the experience the children are having in this photo. However, I know some of my coworkers would cringe at this photo and would never allow the children to have this experience. That is why I always tell my coworkers, if they are not comfortable supervising risky play, I will!

  60. Kate Domingo

    Looking at the picture reminded me of myself where I let my preschoolers play risky games while in the woods. I think in doing so, children maybe able to determine their limits just like the picture, they can pick rocks throw in the water but you cannot see children trying to go in the water.

  61. Nicole Morrell

    I see children pursuing interests and passions, being curious and questioning, persevering and persisting. I see children negotiating new spaces, and participating in group initiatives. I see children increasing bodily awareness, control, strength, agility and large motor coordination, knowing and stretching their physical limits, and releasing and restoring energy in outdoor places.

  62. Karen Koehli-Kozack

    I love that the children are getting risky play without the pressure of the experience being scary or forced. They are able to throw rocks and see the ripples and work at their own abilities to learn about nature and the outdoors. This is such a great experience for children and brings back many childhood memories of being at the river and lake and allowed the freedom to explore and have fun with the safety net of supervision

  63. Paula Watson

    Look at the picture above. What, as an early learning teacher do you see, feel and think about the experience that the children are engaged in? How are your knowledge, life experiences, educational background, sense of curiosity, values and philosophy influencing your response to this photo?

    I see a group of children being trusted to be able to play both near water and with rocks. I feel there are risks here but by being aware of them the risks are beneficial. Having discussions prior to playing in areas like these helps the children to see any potential dangers. When I say discussion I would be asking the children what they see as dangers not pointing out what I see. I think by having the knowledge to know how beneficial this kind of play is huge. People that do not know could walk by and think how careless the supervising person is putting children in that kind of danger. We do need to stand up for what we believe in and not be shamed into thinking we need to wrap the children in cotton wool.

  64. Ashley Barfoot

    I see children exploring through their senses. They are investigating the rocks, seeing the size and weight differences and what may live under the rocks. They could be exploring what happens when they are thrown in the water or whether they can be used to build something. They are navigating how to balance and move safely on an uneven setting. My personal experiences of spending countless hours exploring in this same manner when I was a child are influencing how I see this photo as a fun opportunity to exploration and learning.

  65. Courtney Topolay

    My experience and knowledge knows that this is more than just kids at a riverside. It is building social skills, it is helping with emotional development, body awareness and water safety. To me it also symbolizes the freedom to be in nature and let it be a part of us.

  66. Channy Sam

    in this photo i see childen learn by touching and feeling different kinds of rocks, developing skills to throw rocks in the water, how far they can throw the rock and hearing the sound of water.


    The children exploring while being safe, i also see confidence and curiosity. this increase their self esteem, interaction with nature and create great memory with their peers.

  68. Rochelle Muhlert

    My response to this photo was really influenced by personal experience because the first thing it reminded me of was letting my own children sit beside a river and toss rocks & climb over and my sense of regret that I didn’t let them stay longer on that day. The second thing it reminded me of was camping trips with my own family when I was a child. My values influencing my response to this photo are that the children are where they are supposed to be, they are learning a lot from their activity, and my conviction that experiences like this are important formative experiences in becoming a well-rounded, confident, caring adult.

  69. Mallory

    This photo shows the children exploring the rocks and water while being safe. The educator is allowing the children to explore on their own, this reminds me a lot of my own childhood and exploring the world around my home. The children are climbing and balancing on the rocks all while exploring what is under the rocks and how they sound when they hit the water. This is a great experience that I would put in some simple rules, like and area they don’t cross to ensure that do not fall in.

  70. Kathleen Couture

    Wow what a wonderful experience for these children. I see children navigating the terrain, balancing, picking up, evaluating distance, action versus reaction, risk taking, problem solving, mathematics( size and weight) and so much language, even without audio you can just imagine the conversations they are having. I see each child’s play based on their own individual abilities, some are standing, some are crouched down or sitting, some are close to the edge while others stand back. I see confidence and curiosity.
    I have always embraced the outdoors, out after breakfast and back in for supper, lunch was typically eaten on the porch. We explored the woods, ponds, rivers, and community with little to no supervision. We were allowed to take risks and could judge and decide our own capabilities. I believe all children deserve the right to interact with nature in a variety of ways, this picture makes me smile.

  71. Mandi Bollinger

    I think this learning experience is fantastic! The children can throw rocks to see how big of a rock they can throw, how far they can throw it, how big the splash will be and how loud of a crash when it hits other rocks. They can also discover how rain, wind and the environment erodes rocks differently as well as how many different types of rocks they can find. With the help of their teacher, the children have the opportunity to cross the river and discover current, depth and power of the water.

  72. Jessica Brosch

    This experience looks like a fantastic way for children to play, explore, take risks and really be in charge of their play and learning. There are so skills to develop. Walking around, using balance, working with each other and being cautious of others around. Following safety but still being able to take risks. They will be able to touch, smell and listen to the natural environment….this looks like endless possibilities!

  73. BL

    The children are given freedom and space to explore nature. They are able to climb, move freely from one rock to another and collect rock. They are able to see what happens if they throw a rock in the flowing river. They are able to learn from each other and through their experience with playing generate new games from them as a group or as an individual.

  74. jen.g

    I see the children are having a great time playing with the rocks. I see some children engaged in a conversation. I think the children are using lots of fine and large gross motor skills playing and moving around the rocks. I feel that because I have a little bit of knowledge I could let the children play as much as they wanted depending on the amount of time my program would allow me too.

  75. Szandrita

    As an Educator, the first thing I see is independence, bravery, autonomy. And I feel super happy and satisfied to see the children engaged, but at the same time, I still feel a bit of fear, which makes me wanted to be at the bottom of the rocks.
    I had a pretty balanced childhood, was most of the time exploring and playing outside while sometimes I’ll be inside playing with my pets and exploring my grandmom’s plants. But my love for outdoor exploration has always been there, which is what I do in my free time 😉

  76. Hunter Goodine

    As an early learning educator I feel this is a great experience for the children to participate in because, of there curiosity , how there exploring the items(using there 5 senses), and there working/socializing with some of there peers. As a child growing up I was always outside and told only to come in when it was dinner/supper time or if it was getting close to shower time before I had to go to bed. When I was outside I was very curious, exploring walking in the woods with my two older brothers, and when we would see a river we would throw walks in and watched how big of a splash it made.

  77. Sarah Crumback

    These children are engaged in a time of exploration, learning and peer interaction that looks like a lot of fun. As a child I spent much time outside and now as an educator I understand the value of outdoor play and these things influence how I look at scenarios like this.

  78. Kendra Crooks

    I see children freely exploring and navigating their environment. They are engaged and using all aspects of development to achieve their goals. This reminds me of how my childhood was as my parents let me explore and make my own choices.

  79. Wendy Slavik

    What, as an early learning teacher do you see, feel and think about the experience that the children are engaged in? How are your knowledge, life experiences, educational background, sense of curiosity, values and philosophy influencing your response to this photo?
    The children look as though they are ready to take on the world as they have obviously navigated their way over some fairly jagged rocks. They are ready to throw some into the water, while others are looking around the rocks, perhaps noticing insects or plant life too. As a teacher I would have concerns that they might not play safely and therefore direct them about keeping some distance from each other if planning to hurl rocks in the water and absolutely, “No throwing over someone else’s head!”
    I cannot say for sure, but if I were one of those children in the photo I would want to see how big a splash I could make and challenge others about it, besides seeing how far I could throw some of those rocks. Catching critters may also come into play if the children are adventurous enough.
    As an ECE II I would thoroughly encourage the children to engage in all kinds of exploration and only limit them by what would be deemed safe and healthy risk taking. In the meantime the children are using all kinds of muscles to bend, move, balance, throw, etc and this allows children the opportunity to figure out what their own bodily limits are.

  80. Keiko T

    I feel that these children are having positive outdoor experiences as they are given freedom and space to explore nature. Climbing and balancing on rocks, moving from a rock to a rock, collecting a variety of rocks, watching how river flows, and throwing rocks into river…there are so many learning potentials in this photo. Children are playing and learning from peers, and in return it will foster further play (e.g., inventing games etc) amongst the children. Like everyone says, I do remember engaging in this type of play when I was little with my family and friends – this was a pleasant memory so that I view this photo with positive attitude.

  81. Alana Cornett

    I love this photo. Like everyone else commenting here it reminds me of my childhood. How much fun is it to find the perfect rock to throw, discovering which rock will make the biggest splash and seeing how close I can get to the water! Having these positive experiences as a child as well has having an understanding of the development benefits of this type of play are ultimately going to influence my teaching style and my motivation to provide these learning opportunities for the children that I work with.

  82. Deborah Boyles

    This photo reminds me of when I was a child and would visit my grandparents cottage. My brother and I would try to make a bridge across the Tobique River with big rocks. We would be so engrossed in doing this that hours and hours would pass. I never thought anything of it at the time but no adult came down to intervene. Definitely it would be considered risky play today.

  83. Tina Gouzecky

    I view this as a positive and rich experience for the children involved. So many areas of development are being put to work here…risk assessment by the children who are walking and kneeling against the uneven rocks. Promoting pro-social skills and discussions among peers as they sort and compare the rocks they’re discovering.

  84. Lena Hirst

    I see children being allowed to engage in risky play. They are allowed to explore an uneven surface near water. I personally would feel comfortable with this kind of play if I knew all the children and their abilities well enough to judge the risk they are taking. I do believe in order to succeed in life children need to be exposed to experiences such as these but I would balance this belief with my sense of responsibility to the children and their families by ensuring that I would have at least one other educator with me. This would ensure better supervision and if the need for a water rescue arises would ensure that the other children are supervised.

  85. Cindy Piwowar

    I see a group of children on a rocky incline near a body of water. Wow! What a great experience for these children. A group of seven all engaged, perhaps together, but maybe solitary play. The surface is uneven which is providing some real skill development, to move up and down safely on the rocks. The children are throwing or picking up rocks and perhaps tossing them into the water. The sense of freedom or belonging comes to mind. I can move to the bottom of the rocks or stay at the top, my choice. I feel a sense of calm, a group of children but all are focused in their own interests, perhaps climbing or maybe throwing. A wonderful example of being in the same place but experiencing it in different ways. It is lovely to see children engage in play that is being influenced by their surroundings. The incline and rocks are providing the opportunity for a real life experience. I value risky play so am happy so see children engage in this type of play and show a competency and skill level, that perhaps we didn’t expect.

  86. Janet Edge

    This photo is my childhood! Exploring, rock throwing/skipping, and climbing the trees that were near by. Children are learning to maneuver around the rocks and balancing. They are also learning safe distances from the water. They are being adventurous with the rocks and exploring. The children also seem comfortable, safe and happy in their environment. I see future stories to be told to their parents and friends about their experience by the water. This early childhood provider has created a positive experience and memory.

  87. Jodene Muri

    This photo reminds me of my childhood. Lots of time exploring while my parents fished. I see lots of learning in this photo. The children learn the safe distance from the water. They are exploring the rocks. They are learning to walk and bend and move around the rocks. I see throwing rocks into the water with time.

  88. Rondo

    I see the children feeling competent and secure in their environment as they are squatting, picking up rocks, and moving around freely making their own choices of how to interact. I see this as an experience that will cause a great deal of joy and accomplishment as the children are capable of making it down the rocky terrain near the water. These types of experiences will allow children to increase their self confidence and self esteem while interacting with nature, increase peer relationships, create communications and conversations, build relationships with peers and environment. These children will confidently look forward to the next outdoor play experience. I must say I am jealous of the opportunity to have children engaging in such an enriched outdoor play space. My knowledge, past experiences, sense of curiosity, values and philosophy has led me to believe that these children have a wonderful experience to learn, grow and explore with the vast outdoors; they are very fortunate to have such opportunities.

  89. Brittany Godfrey

    In the above photo I can see children exploring and learning while having fun and freedom outdoors. The children are learning motor and sensory skills to walk on all the rocks, they are learning about weight, texture , size while picking up rocks . They are hearing the water run and sounds that rocks make crashing into each other and being thrown in the water. I grew up in the outdoors ,this photo brought back a lot of memories and senses for me. I now do this with my son and watch through his eyes as he learns and explores in a similar environment as I once did as a child

  90. Ashwak

    I see a group of children being engaged in looking for rocks to through in the river to examine the reaction of that action. I feel that they have the sense of freedom and trust from the adults who’s around them that they can be exposed to the river. I believe that children will benefit in being in experience like this because they learn about cause and effect and develop seeking skills. As will as watching and learning from each other.

  91. Kim Dolezal

    This was a very big part of growing up and been outdoors. Engaged, freedom to explore what they see and can find, skipping, tossing rocks. Feels amazing.

  92. Cindy Schlamp

    The picture is a very familiar scene for me as my parents live really close to a river and my children could spend hours at the waters edge – throwing rocks in to see how big of a splash they make and searching endlessly for the perfect rock to take home.