Learning and Applied Research

Conversations about Outdoor Pedagogy in College ECE Programs

May 18 from 8 a.m. - 2:15 p.m. PT

Join us on May 18th, in collaboration with Bow Valley College, Saskatchewan Polytechnic and New Brunswick Community College, and colleagues at the YMCA and University of Fraser Valley, for a virtual conference called Conversations about Outdoor Pedagogy in College ECE Programs. 

This conference is made possible thanks to a major investment by the Lawson Foundation announced earlier this year that will support researchers from the four institutions in their innovative approach to advancing outdoor early learning and teaching nationally.

Featuring Keynote Speaker: Dr. Peter Gray


Opening, Dr. Beverlie Dietze, Okanagan College Director of Learning and Applied Research

Keynote Speaker: Dr. Peter Gray What Exactly is Play, and Why is it such a Powerful Vehicle for Learning?

"Play" is a word that we use commonly to refer to children's preferred activities and to some adult activities.  But what, really, is play?  In this talk I will define play as activity that is (1) self-chosen and self-directed; (2) motivated by means more than ends; (3) guided by mental rules; (4) includes a strong element of imagination; and (5) is conducted in an alert, active, but relatively non-stressed frame of mind.  I will show how each of these characteristics contributes to play’s educational and developmental value. I will explain why play came about, in natural selection, to promote children’s healthy physical, intellectual, social, moral, and emotional growth and will describe the psychological detriments that have accompanied the decline of play in recent decades. I will also describe the special value of outdoor play and mixed-age play.

Outdoor Pedagogy in College ECE Context 

Dr. Beverlie Dietze


Re-evaluating adult beliefs and attitudes in Outdoor Pedagogy: A YMCA journey

Jenny Britt, Cindy Frizelle, Jennifer Gilbert and Sasha Patterson - YMCA

For the past few years, the YMCA of Southwestern Ontario has experienced an extensive shift in our understanding and practice regarding outdoor play in the context of our licensed childcare locations. Our belief has always been that opportunities for, and access to, quality outdoor play is often controlled by adults. While the emerging research on outdoor play shows benefits for children's health, creativity, social skills and resilience, there is currently minimal guidance on how early learning professionals become educated and confident when integrating this into their practice. This session will focus on our journey of understanding how Early Learning Professional's beliefs, attitudes, and fears act as both a support and barrier to children's opportunities for quality outdoor play.

Post-Secondary Early Childhood Education - Rethinking Outdoor Pedagogy in Teaching.

Tammie Hachey-Bell and Rebecca Derrah

In this workshop, we will explore, question, and reconsider assumptions/experiences of outdoor pedagogy. How can our assumptions/experiences of outdoor pedagogy influence and change our teaching practices? How can our assumptions/experiences of outdoor pedagogy affect and change our use of physical space, time, materials, and relationships influence our teaching practices? 

ECE's Learning on the Land

Mavis Lewis-Webber

This workshop will share some strategies and suggestions that can get Early Childhood Educators outdoors learning on the land.  ECE's are an important role model in the lives of children and it is key they understand the value and importance of outdoor play for children's development.

The Journey from Nature-Based to Land-Based Learning

Monica McGlynn-Stewart, George Brown College, Nicola Maguire, The Learning Enrichment Foundation, Safra Najeemudin, Ryerson University, Shevaun Burrell, Jennifer Jewson, Ana-Luisa Sales, George Brown College

This presentation will include an overview and preliminary findings from the first year of an on-going 3-year research project exploring ways to integrate Indigenous perspectives on land-based learning into mainstream urban childcare centres. Although there is a growing body of research on the health and developmental benefits for children of outdoor learning (e.g., WHO, 2019; CPS, 2012), little attention has been paid to the history, culture, or perspectives of the First Peoples of the land on which children are playing and learning. In 2015, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) report made recommendations for the reconciliation of Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples in Canada which includes reconciliation with the natural world. (TRC, 2015). Indigenous worldviews include developing relationships of gratitude and reciprocity with the land, which leads to a healthier world for all (Wall Kimmerer, 2013).

The Journey of Outdoor Pedagogy in Practicum

Monique Goerzen and Elizabeth McWilliams Hewitt

Join us for an exploration into the experience of early childhood education students navigating outdoor pedagogy in practicum.  We will hear from students who experienced practicum in full outdoor centres and students who integrated outdoor pedagogy through a ‘typical’ practicum placement in preschools and day care facilities. 

We will hear how Covid-19 impacted outdoor pedagogy, what went well, and the challenges that students faced in implementing outdoor play.  There will be time for discussion and inquiry of the successes and barriers of outdoor pedagogy in practicum.

It's too cold to go outside today! Embracing winter and all seasons for meaningful pedagogy

Linda O'Donoghue and Deidre Craig

In this workshop we will discuss experiences of welcoming cold weather to advance outdoor pedagogy in all seasons.

We will invite participants to spend time in reflection about outdoor experiences.  We propose that outdoor winter experiences provide a unique embodied meaning that reinvigorates the spirit and leads us to a sense of wonderment. 

Outdoor Pedagogy Documentation

Bora Kim

Inviting children to engage in various types of outdoor play is critical. But what happens next? How can we further enrich children’s engagement and learning outdoors? Using outdoor play pedagogical documentation, we can see how children make meaning of the world around them and therefore, contribute to deepening their outdoor learning experiences. This session will examine outdoor play pedagogical documentation as a tool to expand children’s learning by engaging in reflective practice with children, families, other educators, and community members.

Thanks and closing remarks delivered by Okanagan College Director of Learning and Applied Research, Dr.Beverlie Dietze