Playing and Learning Outdoors

The monthly ECO reading recommendation

This monthly post aims to let you know about specialist books that support thinking and action towards our mission of ‘more children thriving outdoors, more often and for longer, benefiting from richer and more meaningful environments offering authentic, rewarding and satisfying experiences’.

Let’s kick off with the new edition of my book,

Playing and Learning Outdoors: the practical guide and source book for excellence in outdoor provision and practice with young children By Professor Jan White (2019 Routledge)

With this third edition of the book I first wrote in 2007 (2nd edition 2014), I’ve aimed to make it into a core reference book that will be constantly used in an ongoing way, rather than sitting on a shelf waiting quietly for enough time to get round to reading it ( I have lots that are doing that!)

I consider Playing and Learning Outdoors to be my ‘doing book’ whilst Outdoor Provision in the Early Years (2011 Sage) is my ‘thinking book’. So, alongside all of the additional practical suggestions and advice, I’ve made more of the reference lists that aim to signpost readers to the many children’s books that link with the experiences they are having outdoors (now on light blue pages) and to extensive ranges of further resources for adults (on light green pages). With the coloured pages making them easy to find, these are organised into functional sections relating to specific aspects of potential experience. In particular, the introductory chapter now has guide to all the other books supporting early years outdoor play that are now available – I’ll be posting about one of these each month in this blog.

I’ve gone deeper into each ingredient based on my ever-extending experience of practice across the UK and several other countries and deepening thinking about being and playing outdoors in early childhood through the valuable combination of observation and reading. Not surprisingly, there is quite a bit more about mud and mud kitchens!

I continue to hope that good early years outdoor pedagogy will influence and extend into the lives of 5 to 7 year-olds and have carefully reviewed the text keeping this in mind. Clare Devlin, Early Education Consultant in Northern Ireland has just written this review (thanks Clare!) 

“Jan has cleverly set out each chapter in this book like an ingredient in a recipe. The content and layout is clear so you can really focus on your specific aspects of development work. Within each ingredient, Jan maps out the why, the how, reading and rhyme links, as well as signposting to many additional resources. It’s all in there! The core values of high-quality outdoor experiences keep us focused on what is important. And thank you Jan for a wonderful in-depth look at water play outdoors! This will really help practitioners. In addition to this look at water play, Jan also helps us to consider and value natural and authentic materials outdoors. She addresses the living world, movement and physical experiences, creativity, construction and den play – all in a recipe like fashion which is what makes this book so accessible and user-friendly for all who work in the field of early years.”

And this is what Julie Mountain of Play, Learning, Life had to say about the 2nd edition of the book (she originally wrote this review for her own blog site), which won the Nursery World Staff Resources award in 2014 (thanks Julie!)

2 thoughts on “Playing and Learning Outdoors”

    1. Hi Caitlin, I’m not sure what books Early Childhood Ireland have for sale – it would be best to contact them directly. You can get Playing and Learning Outdoors from Books Education at 20% off by using the method in our post about this ‘online outdoor play bookstore’.

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