Back to the Garten: Ontario kindergarteners learn and grow through schoolyard pedagogy

  • Kate MacDonald
  • Mary Breunig
Original paper


Grounded in the new sociology of childhood and thus valuing the perspectives of young children, this study examined how outdoor, inquiry-based schoolyard pedagogy is experienced by kindergarten students. The study explored two primary research questions: (1) what do students report about their experiences in an outdoor, inquiry-based classroom setting?; and (2) what do teachers report about their observations of children’s experiences in an outdoor, inquiry-based classroom setting? The study employed a phenomenographic methodology consisting of interviews and inductive analysis. Three major themes emerged: 1) student-led experiences in the outdoor classroom, 2) lessons experienced in the outdoor classroom, and 3) boundaries to learning in the outdoor classroom. Subthemes included learning through play, interpersonal learning, connecting with nature, inquiry-based curriculum, and resources. These themes provide insights regarding the structures of learning spaces, the roles of teachers, and the linkages between schoolyard pedagogy and emancipatory knowledge.


New sociology of childhood Transdisciplinary outdoor/inquiry-based learning Kindergarten students Phenomenography 


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Copyright information

© Outdoor Education Australia 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Brock UniversitySt. CatherinesCanada

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