UniSA Researchers Find Children Are Significantly More Imaginative in Nature Play Spaces

Colourful slides, balancing beams and plastic stepping stones, or trees, plants and sand? Which is better for children’s development?

April 23, 2024 | Source: The Sector | by Freya Lucas

These are the questions researchers from the University of South Australia recently set out to answer, and the results will come as no surprise to the early childhood education and care (ECEC) community.

While both spaces have benefits, when the researchers observed the play practices of children aged three to five years in ECEC settings, they found that children were “significantly more imaginative and social” in nature play areas, tending to play together more and be more creative.

In manufactured spaces (those with fixed play equipment, and introduced play tools such as skipping ropes, swings, stepping stones and toys) children were mostly involved in physical activities like climbing and playing on equipment.

When children were offered options of natural play spaces and manufactured play spaces they spent more than half their time (60 per cent) in the natural environment.