EARLY SCIENCE OUTDOORS: LEARNING ABOUT TREES IN THE PRESCHOOL PERIOD

TitleEARLY SCIENCE OUTDOORS: LEARNING ABOUT TREES IN THE PRESCHOOL PERIOD
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2015
AuthorsKos, M, Šuperger, B, Jerman, J
JournalProblems of Education in the 21st Century
Volume64
Start Page24-37
PaginationDiscontinuous
Date PublishedApril/2015
Type of ArticleOriginal article
ISSN1822-7864
Other NumbersICID: 1154012
Keywordsearly science education, individual interviews, observational skills, outdoor play and learning
Abstract

The natural environment is known to be a perfect place for learning early science and there is a lot of literature describing activities for children in the forest. Yet there is a lack of concrete data illustrating how much children can actually learn through such activities. The aim of the research was to establish children’s progress in their knowledge about trees and in process skills they gained through structured activities and free play in the forest. A quasi-experiment with one control and one experimental group was carried out, each comprising 16 children aged 5–6 years. The state of the children's previous knowledge and observational skills regarding trees was established through individual interviews. The children were given three tasks: naming a leaf (10 leaves); connecting a fruit or cone (8 fruits) to the corresponding leaf; and choosing the leaf they recognise as the same as each of the 10 given test leaves among a total of 17 leaves (this activity sought to investigate the progress in the children's observational skills). Children from the experimental group then continued with the activities in the forest. Following those activities, the knowledge and skills they had acquired were established via repeated interviews in both groups. The results show that at the beginning of the experiment the children's prior knowledge of trees was poor. After the activities were performed, children in the experimental group showed a statistically significant improvement in their results for naming the leaves and connecting the fruits or cones to the corresponding leaf. Progress in observational skills through the task of choosing a pair of leaves from among many could not be identified since the result had also significantly improved in the control group. Familiarity with the task may well have had a stronger influence on the results than the forest activities themselves. The result of the research allows the conclusion that appropriate forest activities enable children to progress in the field of early science, and it is therefore suggested that outdoor activities form an essential part of preschool education.

URLhttp://journals.indexcopernicus.com/abstract.php?icid=1154012
Refereed DesignationRefereed
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