Risk and Adventure in Early Years Outdoor Play By Sara Knight

Wednesday, June 1st, 2011 Book Review by Valerie Jackson

The book is a sort of bible/training manual for practitioners and parents who work with or who have small children. Although it relates mainly to the early years – in the UK that is up to five years - I think it is entirely appropriate to consider some of the activities mentioned for children at least up to age seven.The author sets out to identify and explain the advantage of play outdoors with natural elements – soil, water, air, fire and so on. The list of chapters identifies her stance that play should be organic and all about discovery of self or of the properties of different materials.

  • Earth
  • Water
  • Air
  • Fire
  • Seasonal Changes
  • Heuristic Play
  • Natural Creativity
  • Risk and Danger
  • Conclusion: The Role of the Adult
  • Appendix: Useful resources; Curriculum links

This is set out in a logical format with a brief introduction at the beginning of each chapter to identify the key points of the content. It is illustrated with black and white photos of real products from such outdoor activities such as making muddy faces on trees or building a fire to boil a kettle to make a hot drink or using a mound to discover dragon’s eggs.

There is a liberal sprinkling of points for practice and case studies to prompt the reader to make full use of the book and its message. The suggested activities are easy to follow and are integrated with common sense health and safety precautions.

This is a really excellent book. I would recommend it for every day nursery, childminder and school where there are children up to the age of seven. It reminds us of the fun of exploration and how much can be learned by a small child when they are allowed to play and investigate natural materials.

It motivates me to change the appearance of my garden so that my grandchild can use parts of it to explore and learn in her own time.

Knight, Sara (2011) Risk and Adventure in Early Years Outdoor Play -

Learning from Forest Schools

Sage Publications

ISBN: 978 1 84920 629 7

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