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The impact of outdoor play and nature games on the development of observation skills in preschool children

Katarina Kovač (2014) The impact of outdoor play and nature games on the development of observation skills in preschool children. Diploma thesis.

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    Nature is a very stimulating environment for preschool children to learn and to play. Numerous studies show that the unlimited space as well as diverse materials and objects encourage children to develop more complex and creative ways of playing in the natural environment as opposed to the closed spaces or standardised playgrounds. The natural environment offers many sensory stimulations which have a positive effect on the development of child's sense organs and observation abilities. Observation is a complex process which requires all sense organs to participate and includes mental activities as for example spotting similarities and differences, sequences and patterns. In general, preschool children are good observers. If they are provided with enough opportunities for observation, the ability tends to develop with age. The aim of my bachelor's thesis was to explore how preschool children observe objects in the nature. In order to find out how carefully they observe I focused on the example of observing tree leafs. Furthermore, I wanted to establish whether free play and learning through guided play in the nature had an influence on the development of children's observation abilities. Watching preschool children play in the nature I sought to determine whether a permanent contact with the nature affects the quality of the play which unfolds in such environment. The research included 21 children aged 5-6. At the beginning I conducted a test with every child individually focusing on their observation abilities. For 6 test twigs a child had to spot the twig which was the same as the chosen one (she/he had to find pairs) among 15 twigs. Afterwards the children were left playing freely for three days, whereas for two days they had to involve in the more structured activities focusing on the development of observation abilities through playing. At the end of the activities I once again tested the observation abilities of each child separately. The results obtained by watching the children play in the nature suggest that their play developed with time. The children showed progress in all areas. They observed natural materials very carefully, inspected their structure, watched animals, developed various theories and raised different subjects concerning nature; during the play they faced problems and were determined to find solutions for them. They expressed positive as well as negative feelings, took care of nature, learned how to reach a compromise and helped each other. They were physically very active and developed a sense of balance and basic forms of movement. However, in my research I could not recognize a clear progress in observation abilities of children who were often playing in the nature. The differences I noticed are too small to allow for any definite conclusions. Still, I believe that activities in the nature had a beneficial influence in this area as well. Children were attracted to the natural environment. During the activities related to bachelor's thesis they gained a positive experience of the nature and were given many possibilities to observe. All this certainly had a positive influence on the development not only of their knowledge and abilities but also of their attitude to the nature.

    Item Type: Thesis (Diploma thesis)
    Keywords: nature, outdoor play, observation, child, process skills
    Number of Pages: 59
    Language of Content: Slovenian
    Mentor / Comentors:
    Mentor / ComentorsIDFunction
    viš. pred. dr. Marjanca KosMentor
    Link to COBISS: http://www.cobiss.si/scripts/cobiss?command=search&base=50126&select=(ID=10386505)
    Institution: University of Ljubljana
    Department: Faculty of Education
    Item ID: 2665
    Date Deposited: 09 Jan 2015 14:23
    Last Modified: 09 Jan 2015 14:23
    URI: http://pefprints.pef.uni-lj.si/id/eprint/2665

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