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.
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.
Resources for educators:
An introduction to Froebel, children and nature
Published in January 2022
Re-engaging with nature
Published in October 2022
Outdoor play and exploration
Published in August 2017
The Access to Nature Project
Guidance for educators. Published in April 2022
Froebel's principles and practice today
Published in March 2020
Children and nature
A short presentation (PDF) created by Felicity Thomas in November 2022
"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 (January 2022)
This Froebel Trust podcast episode (released in June 2023) explores outdoor play and young children's connections with nature.
How can schools and early years settings support outdoor play for young children now? And, what if your setting is in the middle of the city or has very limited access to outdoor space?
A recording of a short presentation by Felicity Thomas (Froebel Trust Travelling Tutor) exploring ways we can support young children to learn about "...the interconnectedness of living things..."
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.
Developing an ECEC response to the global environmental crisis
This research report was commissioned by the Froebel Trust to explore Froebel’s ideas about children and nature in the context of the 21st century emergency in climate change and biodiversity. The researchers outline a new ‘nature engaging and nature enhancing’ (NENE) pedagogy for early childhood education and care. First published in December 2022.
The Froebel Partnership (funded by the Froebel Trust) is currently researching how young children use natural spaces outdoors. Find out more about this project: Engaging with nature - An exploration of Froebelian principles in the natural outdoor environment.
Recent Froebel Trust funded research projects all about children and nature:
- The Access to Nature Project - 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.
- 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 year
- Nature play, play naturally: Supporting Outdoor and Nature-Based Play in Preschool
- Nurture through nature: fostering early childhood students’ understanding of outdoor learning spaces
Explore our online research library
Discover lots more nature related research projectsBrowse our research
Top tips and practical advice for educators and carers interested in supporting young children’s outdoor play from Naomi Clarke.
Want to know more about Froebel, nature and outdoor play?
Further reading suggestions
- An article about play and nature by Dr Sacha Powell, CEO, Froebel Trust. Published by Early Years Alliance in June 2022.
- 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
"If we enable the children in our care to foster a healthy vibrant relationship with the natural world, we give them the keys to become the future guardians of the Earth."