Landscape as Playscape: The Effects of Natural Environments on Children's Play and Motor Development

Fjørtoft, Ingunn

This study investigated the impacts of playing in a natural environment on motor development in children. Methods from landscape ecology were applied for landscape analysis and entered into a Geographic Information System (GIS). Localization of play habitats was done by use of Global Positioning Systems (GPS). A quasi-experimental study was conducted on five-, six-, and seven-year old children with an experimental group playing in a natural environment and a control group playing in a more traditional playground. When provided with a natural landscape in which to play, children showed a statistically significant increase in motor fitness. There were also significant differences between the two groups in balance and co-ordination in favor of the experimental group. The findings indicate that landscape features influence physical activity play and motor development in children. 

Pedagogical Area
  • place-based education, environment as integrating context (EIC)
Subject Area
  • physical education, outdoor recreation
Delivery Area
  • school based
Participant Area
  • student
  • environment
Age Area
  • early childhood (2-5 years old)