Date of Award

12-2004

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science

Major

Agriculture and Extension Education

Major Professor

Randol G. Waters

Abstract

Outdoor childcare play areas could benefit from shaded areas, or additional shaded areas, not only for protecting children from the sun, but in providing them a rich learning environment as well. Trees provide shade, clean air and opportunities to develop environmental responsibility though visual and cognitive interaction with nature. Worldwide, researchers are delving into a fast emerging field of childhood studies which looks at the importance of trees, nature, and their effects on children's play and learning. Incorporation of trees into outdoor play spaces will lead us into the direction of ensuring continuing appreciation of the environment as well as providing beneficial shade for future generations. Study results indicate a high value associated to the importance of shade trees in outdoor play spaces; yet, physical site assessment data reveals a low number of shade trees compared to the presence of standard play equipment. Oftentimes, playground development is considered the least important factor when budgeting for improvements to the overall center. While nature-based activities and curriculum are being conducted indoors, outdoor environments are overlooked as opportunities to improve cognitive skills. An educational model has been created for the development, implementation and evaluation of shade tree use in childcare centers. This model will be used to implement and assess the impact of an educational program on attitude about and knowledge of use of shade trees in childcare facilities.

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