This qualitative study makes recommendations to help teachers understand how an outdoor learning
environment could be designed and used to enrich perceptual development through sensory and motor
stimulation for the Grade R learner. This was done by establishing design principles that create better
teaching and learning environments from the perspective of an educator in the South African context.
Three purposively selected case studies (pre-schools) enabled the collection of data using collection
methods (Burton & Bartlett, 2009:63) such as photos, video clips, interviews, observations and document
analysis. Content analysis was conducted, resulting in themes and sub-themes (Creswell et al.,
2010:298) on which conclusions were drawn based on similarities and differences in data and existing
literature. Four themes emerged: 1. contradictory perspectives on outdoor learning environments; 2.
outdoor play is valuable; 3. creating the ideal outdoor learning environment and 4. increased deficiency of
sensory and motor development among Grade R learners.
The theories employed in this study were: 1. eight universal principles for the design and use of an
outdoor learning environment for sensory and motor stimulation obtained from the work of Montessori
(Montessori, 1988), Malaguzzi (Cadwell, 2003) and the Scandinavian Forest School Movement (Knight,
2009) and 2. the model of Slabbert (2009) for facilitating learning (Slabbert, De Kock, Hattingh, 2009).
This study resulted in helpful data collection tools and outdoor learning environment evaluation rubrics,
including: 1. a map containing schematic detail of each site (see e.g. Fig 3.3 pg 60); 2. an inventory
documenting site details and the relevance for sensory and motor stimulation (see e.g. Table 3.1 pg 61).
3. a rubric recording the site features for sensory and motor stimulation (see Addendum 4); and 4. a
rubric for the design and use of an outdoor learning environment for whole-child development (see