Children’s participation in documentation processes in local outdoor spaces

Abstract views: 371 / PDF downloads: 223




Outdoor local spaces, Land art, Documentation, Children’s voices, Drawings


This article describes a study that aimed to investigate how children perform and document Land Art in local places near their kindergarten and the visualization of their experiences through their drawings back in the kindergarten. Documentation is important for a kindergarten’s planning and evaluation of pedagogical practices and activities. Studies have shown that using visual methods, such as drawings and photographs created by children themselves, to provide information related to children’s perspectives, actions and attitudes is a way for children to communicate and make meaning of their experiences. Encounters with the natural world through the performance of Land Art offer children the opportunity to directly sense, interact with and know ‘the world of materials’. Children’s interactions correspond with natural materials and the environment. Participatory observation was used, following a group of twelve children, aged four and five years in a year’s period to their trips near a shoreline. Data consists of photographs, voice recordings, video, drawings, and narratives to explore ways children interact with and make meaning of place by performing Land Art. The results show that children’s photographs and drawings are ways to ‘communicate’ with their experiences and engage with, pay attention to and visualize their perspectives. The findings might have implications for new approaches to documenting children’s voices and experiences through performing Land Art and drawings.


Almon, J. (2013). Adventure - the value of risk in children's play. Alliance for Childhood.

Anderson, G. (2019). Drawing as a way of knowing in art and science. Page Bros Ltd.

Andersson, S., Aptekar, L., Boal, A., Brostrom, S., Bruner, J. Chambers, F., Cleaver, A., Cornwall, A., Dawes, M. A., DiCarlo, J., Gibbons, D., Kaminsky, J., Wright, D., Stiles, G., Dona, C., Kalinganire, F., Muramutsa, D., Donald, J., Wallis, A. Cockburn, J., .. & Yardley, K. (2005). Creative methodologies in participatory research with children. In S. Greene & D. Hogan (Eds.), Researching children's experience (pp. 254-272). SAGE Publications Ltd.

Bento, G., & Dias, G. (2017). The Importance of Outdoor Play for Young Children’s Healthy Development. Porto Biomed. Journal, 2, 157–160. DOI:

Bessell, S. (2015). Rights-based research with children: Principles and practice. In R. Evans, L. Holt, & T. Skelton. (Eds.) Methodological Approaches. Geographies of Children and Young People (Vol 2, pp. 1-18). Springer. DOI:

Brady, E. (2007). Aesthetic regard for nature in environmental and land art. Ethics, Place & Environment, 10(3), 287-300. DOI:

Braun, V., & Clarke, V. (2021). Thematic analysis: A practical guide. SAGE Publications Ltd.

Buaas, E. H. (2016). Med himmelen som tak. Barns skapende lek utendørs [With heaven as a roof. Children's creative play outdoors]. Universitetsforlaget.

Canning, N., Teszenyi, E., & Pálfi, S. (2022). Are you listening to me? Understanding children's rights through Hungarian pedagogic practice. Journal of Childhood, Education & Society, 3(3), 218-232. DOI:

Clark, A. (2010). Transforming children's spaces: Children's and adults' participation in designing learning environments. Routledge.

Clark A., & Moss, P. (2011). Listening to young children: The Mosaic approach. National Children's Bureau.

Einarsdottir, J., Dockett, S., & Perry, B. (2009). Making meaning: Children's perspectives expressed through drawings. Early Child Development and Care, 179(2), 217-232. DOI:

Fjørtoft, I. (2013). Barn og bevegelse: Læring gjennom landskap. [Children and movement: Learning through landscape]. In E. B. H. Sandseter., T. L. Hagen, & T. Moser (Eds.), Kroppslighet i barnehagen: Pedagogisk arbeid med kropp, bevegelse og helse, Dewey [Physicality in the kindergarten: Educational work with body, movement and health] (pp. 180-193). Gyldendal akademisk.

Fjørtoft, S. O., Thun, S., & Buvik, M. P. (2019). Datagrunnlaget til Monitorundersøkelsen 2019 [The database for the Monitor study 2019]. Utdanningsdirektoratet.

Formosinho J., & Passos, F. (2019). The development of a rights-based approach to participation: from peripheral involvement to central participation of children, parents and professionals. European Early Childhood Education Research Journal, 27(3), 305-317. DOI:

Fredriksen, B. (2019). Før sanden renner ut. Barnehagelærerens innsats for økologisk bærekraft [Before the sand runs out. Kindergarten teacher's contributions for ecological sustainability]. Universitetsforlaget.

Frisch, N. S. (2008). Når øyet styrer hånden: Om mestringsprosesser i barnehagen [When the eye controls the hand: About coping processes in kindergarten.]. FormAkademisk - forskningstidsskrift for design og designdidaktikk, 1(1), 85-95. DOI:

Gessiou, G. (2022). A follow-up review on the impact of a participatory action research regarding outdoor play and learning. Education Sciences, 12(10), 679. DOI:

Groundwater-Smith, S., Dockett, S., & Bottrell, D. (2015). Participatory research with children and young people. SAGE Publications. DOI:

Hagen, T. L. (2015). Hvilken innvirkning har barnehagens fysiske utemiljø på barns lek og de ansattes pedagogiske praksis i uterommet [What impact does the kindergarten's physical outdoor environment have on children's play and the employee's educational practices outdoors]. Nordisk Barnehageforskning, 10(5), 1-16. DOI:

Holm, G., Sahlström, F., & Zilliacus, H. (2018). Arts-based visual research. In P. Leavy (Ed.), Handbook of Arts-based research (pp. 311-335). The Guilford Press.

Johnson, G., Pfister, A., & Vindrola‐Padros, C. (2012). Drawings, Photos, and Performances: Using Visual Methods with Children. Visual Anthropology Review, 28(2), 164-178. DOI:

Ingold, T. (1993). The temporality of the landscape. World Archaeology, 25(2), 152-174. DOI:

Ingold, T. (2007). Materials against materiality. Archaeological Dialogues, 14(1), 1-16. DOI:

Ingold, T. (2010). Ways of mind-making: Reading, writing, painting. Visual Studies, 25(1), 15-23. DOI:

Ingold, T. (2015). The life of lines. Routledge. DOI:

Kaga, Y. (2008). Early childhood education for a sustainable world. In I. Pramling Samuelsson, & Y. Kaga (Eds.), The contribution of early childhood education to a sustainable society (pp. 53-56). UNESCO.

Karlsen, B., & Dardanou, M. (2020). Å samles og å formes i ueteområdet [To gather and form in the outdoors]. In A. Eriksen, & B. Isaksen (Eds.), Kunsten å samles [The art of gathering] (pp. 58-68). Universitetsforlaget.

Karlsen, B., & Dardanou, M. (2022). Noe om sansing og danning gjennom å forme i uterommet [Something about the senses and the formation through forming in the outdoors]. In B. Isaksen, & A. Erisken (Eds.), Kunsten å være urolig [The art of being restless] (pp. 66-76). Universitetsforlaget.

Kondo, K., & Sjöberg, U. (2012). Children's perspectives through the camera lens. Nordicom Review, 33(1), 3-17. DOI:

Kumpulainen, K., & Ouakrim-Soivio, N. (2019). ''My treasure box'': Pedagogical documentation, digital portfolios and children's agency in Finnish early year's education. In A. Eckhoff (Ed.), Participatory research with young children (pp. 105-126). Springer. DOI:

Lindsay, G. (2016). Do visual art experiences in early childhood settings foster educative growth or stagnation?. International Art in Early Childhood Research Journal, 5(1), 1-14.

Linn, S. (2008). The case for make believe: Saving play in a commercialized world. The New Press.

Lyndon, L. (2023). Embracing the breadth of ethical complexities in early childhood research, European Early Childhood Education Research Journal, 31(2), 143-146. DOI:

Miraglia, K., & Smilan, C. (2009). Lessons learned from the landscape: An integrated approach. International Journal of Education Through Art, 5(2-3), 169-185. DOI:

Moe, J., & Øien, V. D. (2014). Kunst og håndverk og kreativ bruk av uterommet [Arts and crafts and creative use of the outdoor space]. In M. Sæther, & T.L. Hagen. (Eds.), Kreativ ute. Barnehagepedagogikk med uterom som læringsarena [Creative outdoors. Kindergarten pedagogy with an outdoor space as a learning arena] (pp. 45-72). Fagbokforlaget

Moser, T., & Martinsen, M. T. (2010). The outdoor environment in Norwegian kindergartens as pedagogical space for toddlers? Play, learning and development. European Early Childhood Education Research Journal, 18(4), 457-471. DOI:

Nelson, E. (2012). Cultivating outdoor classrooms: Designing and implementing child-centered learning environments. Redleaf Press.

Norwegian Directorate for Education and Training. (2017). Framework plan for kindergartens: Contents and tasks. Norwegian Directorate for Education and Training.

Parnell, R., & Procter L. (2011). Flexibility and placemaking for autonomy in learning. Educational Educational & Child Psychology, 28(1), 77-88. DOI:

Pramling Samuelsson, I. (2010). Participation and learning in the early childhood education context. European Early Childhood Education Research Journal, 18(2), 121-124. DOI:

Sandseter, E.B.H., Cordovil, R., Hagen, T.H., & Lopes, F. (2020). Barriers for outdoor play in early childhood education and care (ECEC) institutions: Perception of risk in children’s play among European parents and ECEC practitioners. Child Care in Practice, 26(2), 111–129. DOI:

Smith, A. B. (2015). Children's rights: Towards social justice. Momentum Press LCC.

Solberg, I. (2016). Land art in preschools. An art practice. International Journal of Education & the Arts, 17(21).

Spyrou, S. (2011). The limits of children's voices: From authenticity to critical, reflexive representation. Childhood, 18(2), 151-165. DOI:

Sørenstuen, J. E. (2011). Levende spor.Å oppdage naturen gjennom kunst, og kunsten gjennom natur [Living Tracks To discover nature through art, and art through nature]. Fagbokforlaget.

Tangen, R. (2008). Listening to children's voices in educational research: Some theoretical and methodological problems. European Journal of Special Needs Education, 23(2), 157-166. DOI:

Trimis, E., & Savva, A. (2009). Artistic learning in relation to young children's chorotopos: An in-depth approach to early childhood visual culture education. Early Childhood Educational Journal, 36, 527-539. DOI:

Twigg, D., & Garvis, S. (2010). Exploring art in early childhood education. International Journal of Arts in Society, 5(2), 193-204. DOI:

United Natıons International Children's Emergency Found (2019). Growing up in a connected world: Global Kids online project. publications/1060-growing-up-in-a-connected-world.html

United Nations. (1989). Convention on the rights of the child. United Nations.

Urbina-García, M. A. (2019). Methodological strategies to listen to children's voices: A systematic critical review. Revista Colombiana de Educación, 77, 61-85. DOI:

Walmsley, B. (2018). Deep hanging out in the arts: An anthropological approach to capturing cultural value. International Journal of Cultural Policy, 24(2), 272-291. DOI:

Waterhouse, A. H. L. (2013). I materialenes verden. Perspektiver og praksiser i barnehagen kunsteriske virksomhet [In the world of materials. Perspectives and practices in the kindergarten's artistic activities]. Fagbokforlaget.




How to Cite

Dardanou, M., & Karlsen, B. (2023). Children’s participation in documentation processes in local outdoor spaces. Journal of Childhood, Education & Society, 4(3), 249–260.