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‘Bush kinders’: developing early years learners technology and engineering understandings

journal contribution
posted on 2022-11-22, 00:21 authored by C Speldewinde, Coral CampbellCoral Campbell
AbstractDeveloping a knowledge of design and construction technology and engineering is often overlooked in favour of ‘digital’ technology such as tablets and computers. By taking children outdoors into nature, removing tablets and computers as well as artificial and synthetic materials and replacing them with only what nature provides, children become attuned to developing STEM knowledge through play with natural materials. This knowledge often develops through teacher support and at times by default, as children experience the constantly changing landscape of the natural environment. The development of children’s understandings of ‘nature’s’ technology and engineering provides an opportunity for further investigation of nature-based early childhood education and care settings. Through research conducted at four Australian bush kindergartens, this paper presents data from photographs, interviews and observations undertaken of twelve teachers and over one hundred and twenty children. It responds to the research question, how do early years learners develop their understanding of technology and engineering by engaging in nature-based learning? The research was undertaken using ethnography, a useful method in nature settings as the approach enables a deep understanding of how children develop their understandings of applying technology and engineering over time. The data demonstrate the benefits preschool children can gain from learning and being ‘in’ and ‘with’ nature and the important role bush kinders play in supporting children’s technological and engineering literacy. Findings reveal that through their participation in bush kinder, children can develop technological and engineering knowledge.



International Journal of Technology and Design Education


Berlin, Germany







Publication classification

C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal