An exploration of infant and toddler unstructured outdoor play

Danae Dinkel, Kailey Snyder, Tyler Patterson, Shane Warehime, Miriam Kuhn, Debora Wisneski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Unstructured outdoor play is important for children's development. The present study examined infants’ and toddlers’ physical and social unstructured outdoor play behaviors within childcare centers. Children's outdoor play behaviors were video recorded at two centers (A&B) and assessed using a modified version of the Observational System for Recording Physical Activity in Children in Preschool (OSRAC-P). Children in this study primarily took part in active play (56.7%) and engaged in play without any type of prompting from a teacher (91.2%). There was a significant interaction between the effect of center and location on physically active play (p < 0.001). Children at Center B were most active in open play areas (77.6%), while children at Center A were most active in gross motor play areas (72.2%). In sum, the outdoor play environment influences infants’ and toddlers’ physical and social play behaviors; however, more research is needed to determine the optimal environment for development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)257-271
Number of pages15
JournalEuropean Early Childhood Education Research Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 4 2019


  • Play
  • activity
  • childcare
  • infant
  • outdoor
  • toddler

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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