What’s in a dream? Natural elements, risk and loose parts in children’s dream playspace drawings

Kumara Ward

In this paper, children’s idealised playspace drawings, arising from their participation in planning a children’s playground in a local shopping centre, are examined. This examination is conducted by engaging with theories of human/nature connection, significance of place, and children as agents in co-construction of playspaces. Analysis of the drawings—through a combination of iterative visual methods and children’s narratives—highlights the value children place on being outdoors and on natural elements, loose parts and activity in their play. The playspaces imagined/drawn by the children are in stark contrast to the design of play environments in many schools and early childhood settings where safety and supervision are the dominant focus. These conflicting views are examined in the context of international discourse on playspace design, and the concluding discussion adds to the growing number of voices affirming that children should be actively engaged in the planning process and become co-constructors in spaces that are designed for their use.

Australasian Journal of Early Childhood—Volume 43 Number 1 March 2018.

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