Here’s more from Natural England’s latest round up of recent evidence and reports, policy developments, large scale initiatives, resources and news items:

The SAGE Handbook of Outdoor Play and Learning
T Waller, E Ärlemalm-Hagsér, EBH Sandseter. Book
There has been a growing academic interest in the role of outdoor spaces for play in a child’s development. This text represents a coordinated and comprehensive volume of  international research on this subject.

Outdoor learning spaces: the case of forest school
F Harris. Area
This research focuses on how the learning space at forest school shapes the experience of children and forest school leaders as they engage in learning outside the classroom. The research shows that the outdoor space provides new opportunities for children and teachers to interact and learn, and revealed how forest school leaders and children co-create a learning environment in which the boundaries between classroom and outdoor learning, teacher and pupil, are renegotiated to stimulate teaching and learning

Finding new ways: developing a time and place responsive approach to outdoor learning
D Towers, C Loynes. Horizons, 2017
Place responsiveness in international outdoor education is a ‘hot’ topic that came to the fore for staff at the University when we were faced with an international cohort of masters students. The last thing we wanted to be accused of was a neo-colonial teaching of the British ‘way’ leading to the emergence of a globalised practice in places as far-flung and as different in their landscapes and cultures as Columbia, Kazakhstan and the Philippines. Would it be possible to overcome all the traditions, training and expectations of the UK’s iconic outdoor education practices, from adventure activities to environmental sciences, in order to develop a practice largely inspired by the place itself?

Protected areas as outdoor classrooms and global laboratories: Intellectual ecosystem services flowing to-and-from a National Park
IPJ Smit, DJ Roux, LK Swemmer, N Boshoff, P Novellie. Ecosystem Services, 2017
Education opportunities, capacity building and scientific knowledge are poorly studied intellectual ecosystem services (IES), especially as generated by protected areas (PAs). Based on the cascade model of ecosystem services, we use simple indicators to quantify IES generated in the Kruger National Park (KNP). There is evidence of wide disparities between individual PAs in the generation of IES, resulting from features that are attractive to researchers.

Making the Outdoors Visible in Pedagogical Documentation
J Merewether. Chapter in book Pedagogical Documentation in Early Years Practice.
The author shares thinking about animism and roles of pedagogical documentation in opening conversations about unexplored perspectives. Fresh insights are offered about children’s views of the outdoors.

Theorising outdoor education: purpose and practice
C Loynes.  Chapter in book.
This chapter concentrates on facilitated interventions that offer outdoor adventure experiences explicitly for developmental purposes. The author makes a distinction between ‘learning by doing’, that is developing skills and knowledge in order to learn a subject or craft, and ‘experiential. Whilst learning the skills and knowledge of an outdoor adventure (OA) activity is a necessary and beneficial aspect of outdoor adventure education (OAE) it is the broader purpose these new skills are used for and what this means to young people that lies at the core of OAE.

Teaching outdoors Creatively
Book. Editor S.Pickering
Teaching Outdoors Creatively offers guidance and a variety of exciting ideas to suit the full range of primary schools and locations. Underpinned by current research and practical experience, it investigates innovative approaches to working creatively with children beyond the classroom.

Stress in School. Some Empirical Hints on the Circadian Cortisol of Children in Outdoor and Indoor Classes
U Dettweiler, C Becker, BH Auestad, P Simon, P Kirsch. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
This longitudinal survey compared the stress levels of students taught using an outdoor curriculum in a forest, with children in a normal school setting. Stress levels were measured in cortisol. The main effect in our measures was that the Intervention Group had a steady decline of cortisol during the school day. The control group did not show this decline during either measurement day.

Emotional intimacy with nature and life & intellectual interest in life of pre-service biology teachers for environmental education
HT Kim, JG Kim, C Kim. Journal of Biological Education, 2017
This study investigated emotional intimacy with nature and life, and intellectual interest in life among South Korean pre-service teachers training in biology education. Results suggest that biology teachers should have higher emotional and intellectual interest in nature and life, and a balance between emotional intimacy with nature and life, and intellectual interest in life is needed to prepare them.

Evaluating the Impacts of a Classroom-based Citizen Science Project on Nature Connectedness, Science Identity, and Knowledge of Curricular Material.
Katherine Williams.  MSc thesis
This evaluative research aimed to answer this question: what is the impact of this program on students’ knowledge of hummingbirds, students’ science identity, and their connectedness to nature? Results indicate that, while the project had a modest impact on students’ knowledge of hummingbirds, no impact on connectedness to nature, and a slightly negative impact on science identity, students felt motivated by the citizen science component of the project.

Are children participating in a quasi-experimental education outside the classroom intervention more physically active?
MB Schneller et al. BMC Public Health
For boys, education outside the classroom (EOtC was associated with more daily time being spent moderately and vigorously physically active. No differences were observed for girls. Implementing EOtC into schools’ weekly practice can be a time- and cost-neutral, supplementary way to increase time spent in PA for boys through grades three to six

Green Mind Theory: How Brain-Body-Behaviour Links into Natural and Social Environments for Healthy Habits
J Pretty, M Rogerson, J Barton – International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
The authors propose a Green Mind Theory (GMT) to link the human mind with the brain and body, and connect the body into natural and social environments. The processes are reciprocal: environments shape bodies, brains, and minds; minds change body behaviours that shape the external environment. GMT offers routes to improved individual well-being whilst building towards greener economies. It builds upon research on green exercise and nature-based therapies, and draws on understanding derived from neuroscience and brain plasticity, spiritual and wisdom traditions, the lifeways of original cultures, and material consumption behaviours. We conclude with observations on twelve research priorities and health interventions, and ten calls to action.

Fake nature: The detrimental effects of simulated outdoor environments
S El Sayed. Bedrock, 2017
Three Melbourne early childhood education centres have been granted exceptions to national regulations regarding outdoor space – meaning children at these centres have no access to real nature or the outdoors on a daily basis. Journalist Sara El Sayed looks at how ‘fake nature’ can be damaging to children and the crucial role outdoor space plays in a child’s development

The Relationship between the Physical Activity Environment, Nature Relatedness, Anxiety, and the Psychological Well-being Benefits of Regular Exercisers
Lawton, Brymer, Clough, Deonvan. Frontiers in Psychology
This study investigated the psychological health and well-being impact of the physical activity environment for those already undertaking the recommended weekly amount of physical activity. Results indicate that somatic anxiety is lower for outdoor physical activity participation, and that outdoor activity, in conjunction with autonomy and NRexp, predicts lower anxiety levels. The findings extend previous work by demonstrating the impact of the physical activity environment on anxiety levels, as well as the contribution of outdoor physical activity and well-being facets to the previously established Nature Relatedness-anxiety relationship.

Planning ahead: the mental health value of natural environments
Craig & Prescott. The Lancet
Addressing inequitable access to biodiversity and natural environments is a matter of “ecological justice”. It will be very difficult to retrofit green space if neighbourhoods expand with steel, cement, and glass alone. Urban planners, public health professionals, multidisciplinary teams, and local communities must work together to plan ahead for mental health and quality of urban life in a changing worl

How do type and size of natural environments relate to physical activity behavior?
Jansen et al. Health and Place
The study describes how type and size of natural environments relate to physical activity. Adults’ physical activity behavior was measured using GPS-devices and accelerometers. Different types of natural environments relate to different physical activity modalities and intensities. An increase in size of natural environment was generally associated with more physical activity.

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