Exploring forest and outdoor experiences

The project aims to help to establish a shared understanding of ‘Forest’ and outdoor experiences by drawing on literature and practitioner perspectives in settings in England, Denmark and the United States.


There is currently a discourse around the importance of outdoor education in early learning and concerns amongst the academic and professional communities that young children’s current provision can be impoverished and inadequate if it does not enable children to appreciate and understand outdoor and natural environments (Gustavsson and Pramling, 2014; Klaarand Ohman, 2014; Watts, 2013; Tovey, 2007).

Research Aims

Through this project, (full title: Exploring forest and outdoor experiences in different cultural contexts: towards a shared understanding), we aim to gain a deeper awareness of the different elements which are foregrounded, and to identify the ways in which different cultural perspectives may impact upon the interpretation and understanding of the benefits of forest and outdoor experiences.

Research objectives

  1. To identify cultural factors that might impact upon an understanding of the benefits of ‘forest’ and outdoor practice and provision.
  2. To identify practitioner perspectives in relation to practice and pedagogy regarding forest and outdoor experience.
  3. To explore how practitioners enable children to develop their identities in relation to the environment and concept of space and place.


  • Case study approach
  • Purposive sampling
  • Semi-structured interviews
  • Observations of settings’ outdoor play and forest practice
  • Cross-case analysis

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