THANK everyone for bringing their expertise and experience around the table at today's Learning Circle #11,  Exploring intersections: Nature Play and Sustainability in the Early Years.

Video Recording

Exploring intersections: Nature Play and Sustainability in the Early Years 

The international nature play movement has led to the rapid emergence of various nature play programs across Australia. Such programs offer many benefits for children ranging from physical health and well-being to social skills and environmental knowledge. This Learning Circle offers an introduction to nature play programs, but also an opportunity to deepen understandings about the intersections between nature play and sustainability. We question what pedagogical approaches and theoretical frameworks are available to facilitate education for sustainability in nature play programs.

The Learning Circle facilitating panel:

  • Karen Anderson, Preschool teacher at Balnarring Kindergarten, Victoria and Convenor of the Early Childhood Outdoor Learning Network (ECOLN)
  • Jenny Dudgeon, Manager Sustainability Learning Centre, Tasmanian Department of Education, Hobart. President of Early Childhood Educators of Tasmania and member of Tasmanian Nature Play Network.
  • Dr. Sue Elliott, Senior Lecturer in Early Childhood Education, University of New England, Armidale, NSW
  • Chris Haas, Kindergarten teacher, Mount Stuart Primary School, Hobart
  • Fran Hughes, Head Teacher NSW TAFE, Doctoral candidate and Convenor of the New South Wales Early Years Nature Connections (NSW EYNC), Sydney
  • Dr. Jennifer Pearson, AAEE President, Perth, WA.
  • Michael Voss, Kindergarten Teacher, Eastside Lutheran College, Hobart
  • Ruth Whelan, Community Bush Kinder, Hobart, plus science graduate/outdoor educator/EC student

Due to a large number of participants in this zoom session (100), we were using the chat option for participants to ask any questions. The chat was monitored by Dr. Jennifer Pearson, National President AAEE throughout the session and she directed questions to relevant facilitators on the panel.

Each panel member had 6-8 minutes, in turn to elaborate on an aspect related to the Learning Circle focus, sharing their contexts and perspectives as practitioners/academics.

Time Facilitating panel member Topic
4.30pm Dr Sue Elliott (Convenor) Welcome to participants

Welcome to country

Reminder re Zoom protocols and format

Recorded Zoom available online post circle

Introduce facilitating panel

4.35pm Dr Jennifer Pearson Welcome from AAEE and organisational role
4.40pm Dr Sue Elliott Overview of nature play in Australia and internationally, plus some questions to keep in mind.
4.50pm Karen Anderson Introduction to the Early Childhood Outdoor Learning Network and embedding First Peoples perspectives in early childhood nature play programs.
5.00pm Fran Hughes Introduction to the New South Wales Early Years Nature Connections and Fran’s current doctoral research re pedagogical approaches to facilitate EfS in early childhood centre nature play programs.
5.10pm Jenny Dudgeon/Ruth Whelan Community responses to a nature play/sustainability and outdoor classroom Immersion program for early years – Foundation -  Gr 2 and student perspectives.
5.20pm Chris Haas Masters Research Study: “Kindergarten Children's Introduction to Sustainability through Transformative, Experiential Nature Play”, followed by an example of children’s connection to place raising student voice - “Active Citizenship”.
5.30pm Michael Voss


Bush Kinder pedagogy K- Gr 4 Balancing a growing school and our environmental stewardship
5.40pm Dr Jennifer Pearson Chat questions directed to facilitating panel for responses
6pm Dr Sue Elliott Learning Circle close and thanks