Evaluating the impact of teacher-designed, wellbeing and sustainability play-based learning experiences on young children’s knowledge connections: A randomised trial


Heather Morris

Deakin University/Monash University

Susan Edwards
Australian Catholic University

Amy Cutter-Mackenzie
Southern Cross University

Leonie Rutherford
Deakin University

Janet Williams-Smith
Early Childhood Management Services

Helen Skouteris
Monash University

This paper reports findings from a randomised investigation into the effect of teacher-designed, play-based learning experiences on preschool-aged children’s knowledge connections between healthy eating and active play as wellbeing concepts, and sustainability. The investigation used a ‘funds of knowledge’ theoretical framework to situate young children’s interests in digital media and popular culture, as a site for learning these knowledge connections. The findings suggest that the intervention group children created more wellbeing and sustainability knowledge connections than the waitlist control group children. Additionally, the intervention group children demonstrated an increase in vegetable serves and a decrease in unhealthy food servings post intervention (measured by parent report). The paper suggests that more attention should be paid to early childhood teachers’ capacity for actively building children’s knowledge about wellbeing and sustainability concepts through play-based learning, as opposed to top-down approaches towards obesity education and prevention alone.

Australasian Journal of Early Childhood—Volume 43 Number 4 December 2018.

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