Date of Award

Spring 5-12-2018

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Education (MSEd)


Extended Teacher Education Program

First Advisor

Tammy-Marie Mills


Forest Kindergartenplace-based education, place-based science, inquiry-based science, environmental education, kindergarten science, outdoor learning, ETEP, curriculum, project based, teacher research, proficiency based, action research


This action research explores how kindergarten students learn about forces and motion through inquiry-based, place-based methods. The learning took place as part of an existing day spent learning outdoors, known as Forest Monday, that includes extended time for free play. The three sub-questions addressed 1) science content learning, 2) science practice application, and 3) the incorporation of science content and practices into free play time outdoors. It was a mixed-methods study, with science assessment data supporting observations and interviews. The participants were 12 kindergarten students in a rural elementary school. All students were assessed and interviewed but observations were focused on a subset of three students. Analysis used predetermined categories from science topics and practices. Critical findings were that 1) students met content learning expectations, 2) students used extensive investigation practices, some analysis, and little planning, and 3) students incorporated science content and practices into play with varying levels of awareness and more often during longer periods of play. At a time when kindergarteners get little time for inquiry science or play, this action research provides evidence that play can support students in meeting science learning goals. It serves as an example of teaching in a way that connects students with their place and local phenomena.