Celebrating the importance of connections and relationships between children and nature.
The child should experience nature ‘in all its aspects –
form, energy, substance, sound and colour.
2022 marks ten years of our work as a grant making charity championing a Froebelian approach to early childhood education.
We're celebrating with a year of special events focused on young children's relationships and connections with nature. We're calling it a year of exploration!
Experience and understanding of nature were central to Froebel’s ideas.
Froebel emphasised that children should experience all aspects of nature, not just plants and animals. One of the best ways children can experience nature, he argued, is through their play outdoors in the garden and in the wider natural environment.
Through real life experiences, children learn about the interrelationship of all living things. This helps them to think about the bigger questions of the environment, sustainability and climate change.
Free resources for educators
"We have a crisis in our relationship with nature. Children are increasingly disconnected from the natural world and their access to green and wild spaces is rapidly declining. We are discovering the devastating impact of human activity on our world.
In seeking to renew our relationship with nature, the ideas of Friedrich Froebel, a 19th century German educator and creator of the kindergarten, are timely. He saw the kindergarten as a garden for children, a place where children can develop at their own pace, nurtured by knowledgeable and supportive adults."
Helen Tovey in An introduction to Froebel, children and nature
Engaging with Nature by Debby Hunter and Helen d’Ascoli
Between October 2021 and January 2022 we asked children, their parents, carers and early years educators to tell us about their access to nature and being outside together. The findings of this project tell us about how young children value nature, play and being active outside.
However, the research also reveals the growing inequalities experienced by some families with young children and the challenges they face in accessing natural spaces.
We fund research into the learning and development of babies and young children. Research which looks at play, the natural world, respectful pedagogy, responsive and nurturing relationships, high quality education and training.
Recent Froebel Trust funded research projects have focused on children's connections and access to nature:
- A life ‘in and with nature?’ An exploration of outdoor provision in baby room
- An exploration of the influence of young children on adults within natural environments
- Bringing children’s voices to the fore of education for sustainability in the early years
Dr Jo Josephidou & Dr Nicola Kemp share findings from their research exploring outdoor provision for children from birth to two attending baby rooms in nursery settings.
Explore our online research library
Discover lots more nature related research projectsBrowse our research
Want to know more about Froebel, nature and outdoor play?
Further reading suggestions
- Friedrich Froebel. A Critical Introduction to Key Themes and Debates by Tina Bruce (2021) Published by Bloomsbury
- Bringing the Froebel Approach to your Early Years Practice by Helen Tovey (2012) Published by Routledge
- Download a free copy of Growing a Nursery School from Seed by Stephanie Harding and Felicity Thomas (2020) Published by Froebel Trust
Nature books for children
Ten of our favourite books for young children, all about connecting with nature:
- Let's Go for a Walk by Ranger Hamza, Ivy Kids, 2021
- The Big Book of Blooms by Yuval Zommer, Thames and Hudson, 2020
- When We Went Wild by Isabella Tree, Ivy Press, 2021
- Stanley's Stick by John Hegley, Hodder Children, 2012
- Sensational butterflies by Ben Rothery, Ladybird, 2019
- Out and About by Shirley Hughes, Walker, 2016
- The Tiny Seed by Eric Carle, Puffin, 1997
- We're Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen, Walker, 1993
- The Lost Spells by Robert Macfarlane and Jackie Morris, Penguin, 2020
- Nature Trail by Benjamin Zephaniah, Orchard Books, 2021
What are your favourite nature related titles for young children? Email us at email@example.com with your suggestions and recommendations.