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Early Years Practitioners - help with an essay!(16 Posts)
I'm studying Early Childhood, in my final year, and I have been searching and searching for any research that actually finds natural materials are superior to plastic ones? I know there is a big trend for natural materials and no bright colours / plastic etc, but I am struggling to find any studies on it.
At my nursery it's 99% wooden and if anyone brings in a plastic toy they go crazy for it, so would be interested to find the science.
Sorry, nothing to contribute except this bump and to say I'm interested to know the answer too, as ds nursery is going for greenwashing big time.
Could it be more about wooden loose part play and wooden being a more relaxing environment than big bright plastic stuff? I'm in childcare and did not know it was proven to be better for them!
Look up the curiosity approach, here's a good article 😁
I said article. I meant interview I guess.
It's mainly about keeping things stimulating without being too much. Bright colours are shown to overstimulate children and adults and then issues arise. Natural resources still encourage children to explore but aren't in your face and can be adaptable eg a twig can be a wand, a stirrer for soup, a bridge for cars, chopsticks etc. A toy car is versatile such as can be used for painting, or with building blocks but it's still just a toy car
Oh sorry it also teaches children to want to explore the world around them, if children are used to playing with the toy car that's what they'll go for but if they're used to looking for things around them to play with such as twigs, leaves, stones they'll go looking and might then find things like bugs to learn about or different flowers
I don't think there are any proper studies. it's more that construction or plain toys leave more for the imagination. Wooden blocks can be anything, but so can plastic Lego. Childcare settings tend to prefer wooden things as they date less and things like dolls houses and trucks go they are generally more hard wearing. I'm sure you have a big wooden dolls house at your setting which would take more of a battering than a barbie or lol dolls house.
There are studies on children playing with real life objects or smaller versions being benifical (such as spatulas, pots and pans, hoovers, even hammers and nails) I think this is quite big in Montessori nurseries
Sorry last post (I maybe promise)! If you can't find any studies make your own. Give the children a week with purely plastic toys and electronics. Then give them the next week with just natural ones. Choose three children each day that have different personalities and study them. Note what time they get tired, behaviour throughout the day, how they interact with others both weeks.
Thanks for the replies. I read your link but sadly it doesn't link to any studies, although I understand the thinking behind it, I'd love to find some evidence. You say bright colours are shown to overstimulate children, this is exactly what I'm after but from a journal.
Sorry I'm not trying to delegate my work to strangers, just wanted to put the feelers out!
I love your idea of doing my own study, I'm on mat leave at the moment and also I think my manager would flip if I suggested a week of plastic, but maybe if I do a masters I will try that study!
I'm not sure of any specific studies but I would recommend looking into
The curiosity approach
Loose part play
It is mainly about stimulating there imagination, curiosity and creativity. Although with plastic containing PVC and phthalates, wooden being more eco-friendly and gender neutral - I'm sure there must be studies somewhere.
I just searched "curiosity approach studies" into google and it came up with a bit that takes you to scholar google. Have you tried there? I understand the struggle when I did my level 2 (which is probably piss easy compared to what you're doing) I had to find studies to back up what I was writing and it was near impossible sometimes.
If your manager won't let you do this could you try using a different nursery that hasn't yet adopted the approach but is moving more towards it? As you're on maternity leave maybe ask to volunteer for 10 days but spread out a bit but explain why and see if they'd be willing? All the nurseries in my town are more than happy to aid people doing studies even if they aren't studying with them/for them. If you've had baby can you leave them with someone or maybe approach somewhere after baby is born? What's your deadline for this?
https://www.topsdaynurseries.co.uk/natural-toys-better-plastic/ doesn't seem to be a study but maybe can contact them?
https://www.tomsofmaine.com/good-matters/healthy-feeling/why-simple-wooden-toys-are-the-best-for-your-child appears to be from a study
https://slate.com/human-interest/2018/01/my-quest-to-avoid-a-million-crappy-toys-and-follow-the-doctrine-of-toy-limitation.html from a mother writing an article, seems she studied her child and her friends children?
https://www.google.co.uk/amp/s/www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2019/08/29/britains-first-plastic-free-nursery-swaps-artificial-toys-wooden/amp/ quotes from a manager of a nursery following the curiosity approach
https://bhoomischool.org/the-importance-of-natural-toys-and-environment-for-children/ speaks of her own experience as part of a study, half an hour may be easier to accomplish like the people conducting this experiment did?
https://www.google.co.uk/amp/s/www.bbc.co.uk/news/amp/science-environment-47868871 this talks about the other side of the coin where it appears children prefer the plastic
https://www.funtastictoy.com/wooden-toys-vs-plastic-toys/ pros and cons of wood vs plastic
thanks so much will have a read!
What about the pre school who swapped all plastic toys for everyday items and the children got asked which they wanted to keep and they said everyday items. Google it it’s a good read
I think the move is more about moving from plastic one use only toys ie a plastic car can only be that - to natural and everyday materials that can be anything if you use your imagination. Also to get them handling real items not just plastic play versions.
I don’t think plastic colourful toys are necessarily bad - there were studies once that said colour stimulated brain growth!
Personally I think a mix of both works well. Those plastic dumper trucks mixed with natural loose parts like conkers and pine cones and sticks were a hit with some of the children I work with, for example. It’s about balancing the resources for the children in that cohort and making sure they get lots of outdoor and real, everyday experiences too.
Try looking through forest school stuff. I am sure there will be something there. Also a lady called Amanda Jarmin has written a book on quiet spaces for early years settings. I can't remember the name of the book. Try going down the speech and language route too that may help xx
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