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Expanding The Possibilities For Outside Play

A joint research project between Holland College and Mount Saint Vincent University examines ways to support programming opportunities that encourage children aged two to four years old to broaden the type of outside activities they participate in.

Trial Balloons, a type of provocation concept developed by Dr. Beverlie Dietze, Assistant Professor in the Department of Child and Youth Studies at the Mount, “float” ideas to children as a way to trigger their curiosity and expand their play experiences. With the assistance of the Mount’s Industry Liaison Office and Holland College’s Applied Research department, the Holland College Early Childhood Care and Education program and the Holland College Early Learning Centre/Lab School have partnered with Dr. Dietze to test the trial balloon concept.

In all, there will be four Trial Balloons explored. The first Trial Balloon asked the question, “What do we observe if the outdoor play space is an option during area time?”

Previously, all 44 of the children would go outside at the same time, so outdoor play wasn’t an option for the smaller groups that are part of area time. Although it’s a seemingly simple alternative to include in the children’s choices, when one considers the logistics of ensuring that two to four-year-olds require a certain number of supervisors per group, that there may be an occasional diaper change that requires taking a child inside, and that, in addition to 10 to 12 children playing outside, there are 30 or so more playing inside that also require supervision, offering the outdoor option becomes a logistical challenge.