As the interest in learning and playing outdoors continues to grow both in the UK and internationally, an increasing number of books are being written about different aspects of this subject. In this blog post, I thought I would highlight several which I have enjoyed reading during the past year.
Loose Parts: Inspiring Play in Young Children by Lisa Daly and Miriam Beloglovesky
This is a coffee table book for hoarders and lovers of loose parts. It is packed full of delicious photos which provide provocations for specific collections such as trays of sea glass or boxes of hangers. Whilst the photos may feel staged to some, the inspiration they provide is super. Care has been taken to provide a mix of natural and man-made items featured indoors and out. The text provides a good rationale for the use of loose parts in early childhood and links this to child development as well as schemas and curriculum areas with examples from children’s play. The authors’ backgrounds and early childhood education and creative arts shines through in this book.
The Little Book of Free and Found by Julie Mountain
This is a short, sweet read filled with good advice about using loose parts outside. There’s advice on safety checks, looking for further ideas on the internet and a range of practical activities which clearly emphasise that outdoor play does not need to involve spending lots of money. Rather, children’s play is often deeper and more satisfying when basic free and found resources are used. I think it’s a great complement to the “Loose Parts” book above and vice versa.
I Love Forest School by Martin Pace
I really enjoy hearing about practitioners and children’s experiences outside. I Love Forest School is the author’s perspective on the introduction and development of the Forest School approach at his award-winning nursery. Within the 64 A4 pages there are lots of colour photos of Reflections Nursery and how Forest School has become embedded into the life of the setting. Examples of observing, recording, assessing and planning child-led experiences are given. I think this is a worthwhile read for any practitioner and especially those considering whether to introduce Forest School into their own routines and ethos. This is my favourite Forest School book to-date.
Risk, Challenge and Adventure in the Early Years by Kathryn Solly
Kathyrn Solly, the former head teacher of Chelsea Open Air Nursery has written a helpful book which has a very up-to-date perspective on outdoor play. It has relevant and wonderful quotes from Susan Isaacs, who founded the nursery and demonstrates that good play principles stand the test of time. In particular I liked the frequent references to the value of woodworking and use of tools as a normal part of outdoor practice. Kathyrn provides excellent evidence that risk, challenge and adventure is an entitlement for all children all year round and this need not be dependent on having Forest School training.
Outdoor Play for 1-3 Year Olds by Isabel Hopwood-Stephens
If you are a parent or outdoor professional or early years practitioner who is thinking of starting up an outdoor toddler group then this book is for you. However, it has lots of practical advice and guidance which is relevant for anyone considering setting up as a freelance provider and offering activities for older children as well. The book is accessible and helpful as Isabel advocates “All you need to start with is a yard with a patch of grass, some cheap resources and some enthusiastic play workers.”
If there are any outdoor learning and play books which you have enjoyed reading and would recommend, then it would be great if you could leave a comment below. In due course, I plan to keep this list updated. Several years ago I created an Amazon Listmania about Early Years Outdoor Books which is also worth a look if you want to know about books which were published earlier.