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Hi I was wondering if anyone would be able to help me.


The problem is this: As part of the placement part of my early childhood studies degree, we have been accompanying groups of children from a local nursery to a country park every few weeks.


We have been given an assignment for this placement, where in groups we have to give a short presentation about a topic to do with the placement and then have a debate with the group split into the two sides, and one person acting as chair.



Now I havn't got a clue what sort of topic we could discuss, apart from risk taking. Apparently my group has decided to look at weather ( I was absent on the day they met to decide). I cannot see how we could do much academic research on this topic, especially bearing in mind we have to have a debate, with two sides for and against.



Have any of you got any ideas of a controversial topic that could be covered for this assignment. Even if we were to do risk taking, or outdoor play, I don't see how we could have a 2-sided debate as all the literature talks about the benefit of outdoor play, and that children need to be able to take risks.


Any ideas?????

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Not absolutely sure what is required here. If it is to be a discussion on Outdoor Play regarding weather does that mean that you are looking at the pros and cons of Outdoor Play in all weathers, after all some practitioners and parents are dead set against going out if it is cold/windy/sunny/rainy/snowy/frosty- whereas the rest of us think that that is good for the children's health, experiencial learning, language etc. as long as they are in apporpriate clothing and take appropriate precautions. Now that could make a really good debate with a bit of research to back it up.

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I agree with JacquieL,


I visited Sweden once ( childcare research) and in this country, the outdoors is seen as equally important if not the primary part of their curruculum ( pedagogy). Children I visited spent every day all day outside of the Kindergarten setting. We climbed tree's, cooked waffles on open beach fires and many many more experiences which would not be allowed in England due to our stringent health and safety restrictions.


I say not allowed, this ws 8 yrs ago, I think there has been progression in England with recognising different ways in which children can access the outdoors. I have read about Forest Nurserys, where experiences are similar to the ethos of Swedish ones.


Ratio's are always a subject of debate, because of the requirement of high ratio's this can stop many experiences of walking out with children from even happening. We accept the guideline ratio's as a requirement without question, yet I personally feel that I could take 15- 20 children out for a local walk, quite safely with 3 staff. The more opportunities the children have to experience and learn about the "safe rules" when outdoors the lower the risk becomes.



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Sounds a bit confusing - are they asking for a reflection/debate on the actual topic itself - bearing in mind the topic has been chosen by the group - was it the best topic to choose - did you achieve what you wanted to - and if not why not - were the children interested - or should it have been some other topic that might have captured their imagination better, were they more interested in other things, what did the children get out of it - did it wander off the subject, was it inclusive? etc etc. Did the weather change enough over the course of the weeks to investigate change and how was the topic developed - what were the other cross curricular activities involved - did these perhaps take over from the main area and aspect of learning. For me personally, it would not have been my first choice of topic to do with young children - especially as there was quite a bit of effort put into this and it was probably all new to the children. This subject could have been covered in other ways too, maybe there was a missed learning opportunity - depends I suppose how you link it in. What did the group think and what did you personally think. Did it work?

That's all I can think they mean.


Otherwise I suppose it's really down to the risk assessment issues for the against.



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Hi Befals

Don't know whether it is too late to suggest to you that you look into any research done on the effects on children with asthma and outdoor play. Has been suggestions that children with asthma benefit from playing outside. Could see if this true or not? I'd be interested to see if it does or not as I seem to have a significant no each year with asthma and as many live in a tower block and don't get outside I feel very strongly they should get out as much as poss at school. However with hayfever and pollen going outside might make their asthma worse and I wouldn't want that for them. So maybe research and a debate on this would be very interesting.

What do you think?


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sorry i'll try and explain again what the assignment is about, I don't think I have made it clear :(


We have to choose a 'controversal issue' that has arisen from the placement. What we have been doing is going with a group of nursery children on a coach to a local country park 15 mins away, and letting them explore and play for a couple of hours. The kids have been walking about, climbing on trees and logs, looking at the ducks on the reservoir etc. This week we took bug collectors and most of them were looking for bugs. It was all child initiated(apart from the bug collecting- think they must be doing minibeasts as a topic- however they didn't all do this, many were doing their own thing)


So we pick a hot topic which we then do a short presentation on (each person speaking for one minute) and then we debate it. The group is split into for and against the issue, and one person is the chair person, who manages the debate and takes questions from the other students.


so the topic we present/debate has to be one where there are two sides to it that we can debate for ten minutes. It also has to be something that we can do academic research into.



So my group have chosen weather. If we can cover the above with this topic then great. however I am concerned that it is not something that we can really reseach and debate. JacquieL what you talked about is how I envisage we could debate this topic, however I suspect that although there are people (staff and parents) who may be against taking children out in bad weather, I doubt there is any literature that would back up this arguement. Because my course is an academic one, we have to make reference to academic literature.


So I am stuck as to how we can

a) cover this assignment with the topic weather or

xD have another topic(s) which has a for and against that I can try to suggest to the group to do instead.


Hope this makes things clearer.


Anyone have any ideas? :o




p.s Trudie that sounds like quite an interesting idea! It could be a possibility, do you think I will find a lot of research on asthma? It is a large group (10 of us) so we need something that has enough material for us all to contribute.

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Hi Befals,


My dissertation was on outdoor play and included the impact of the weather and there is not a lot of research material out there.


Could you research - the role of the adult in outdoor play

- outdoor v. indoor play - is one more important than the other?

- is outdoor play more suited to boys



Don't know if these any good.

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Hi, just did a search for outdoor play and research and there are quite a lot of websites and ideas such as :

planning and designing outdoor spaces for young people in the 21st century - does outdoor play prevent obesity? discussion on http://environment.uwe.ac.uk/publicspaces/conference


www.ltl.org.uk (learning through landscapes)

or how about this one...Are they experiencing education or are they simply experiencing 'the outdoors' - discussion on http://reviewing.co.uk/reviews/outdoor-education.htm


I'm sorry I don't know how to do proper links yet but hope the information helps!

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Still a bit confused - with regard to debating the weather - I know its what we do best but linking it into childhood research along with citing academic referencing seems a little hard especially when we are not weathermen.


Hard to put up a for and against debate on the weather per se. Perhaps you need to link it to as someone else says the physical aspect of outdoor play in the local environment. Many groups would argue that they have an outdoor play area - but is this enough to encourage all areas of the curriculum, is there enough KUW involvement and how could this be covered. Perhaps this could be your debate. Groups with small outdoor areas would argue how they could cover this by their designing of the curriculum but I personally would argue that they could get far more by visiting a local park of interest. But where the weather comes into it I am not sure - yes I suppose you could touch on it - certainly you could get your critically analysis and your academic referencing in here by debating the outdoor play area against the outdoor outdoors. Certainly the second website looks really interesting that Kermit put up, haven't had chance to look at it but something I would certainly look at. I have an outdoor area, small and tiled but we go for a walk every week in the woods. Personally, I could not cover what I do by just using my immediate outdoor play area. Where would we catch frogs, newts, spiders, lizards. feed the ducks and geese, watch the swans build their nests, pond dip - couldn't cover that in my small playground. Certainly you can get your academic referencing here from loads of authors for the debate for - lots of writers also who would put up an arugment recognising the implications of how you could achieve this without going out in the local environment too.

Not too sure if this helps - still struggling wth the weather topic though. As you yourself said they didn't seem to get all they should out of the activity - they obviously had a great time - but what of the learning outcomes.


Anyway still think that weather is a bit of a funny subject to debate - what has your tutor said and what ideas are the others coming up with - maybe I am missing something.


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