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Watery webs of interconnectedness: Water-ways as pedagogical sites

conference contribution
posted on 2023-05-23, 18:48 authored by Hirst, N, Boyd, D, Browder, J, Sherridan EmerySherridan Emery

Despite the ever-growing body of knowledge about human impact on river and coastal ecosystems and the need to work towards a sustainable future, young children’s participation in environmental action initiatives in freshwater and marine habitats remains low. This reality signifies an increased urgency for educators to support young children’s relationship with aquatic environments so they can acquire the skills and dispositions to become ‘agents for change’ for the environment. Guided by ecological systems theory and ocean literacy framework, this presentation describes three exploratory case studies from the United States, England and Australia that investigated early childhood teachers’ attitudes towards and practices of using the context of freshwater and marine habitats to integrate environmental action initiatives into the curriculum. The study participants were early childhood teachers who engaged young children in diverse environmental action initiatives, which ranged from the collaboration of children, educators and community organizations to rescue sea turtles, recognizing Beach Kindy as a pedagogical approach for critical agents of change within Early Childhood Education and to participation in environmental partnerships to protect sea-bird breeding habitats.

Data were collected through ethnographic methods of observations, field notes, and semi-structured interviews. Findings revealed that teachers viewed local freshwater and marine habitats as pedagogical spaces where action initiatives for sustainability can be conceived and incorporated into the curriculum. Teachers linked the importance of ecological learning and curriculum integration to children’s ability to develop “webs of connectedness” in which children experience themselves as being part of an existing ecological network of other living things in their communities. From the analysis of the case studies conducted in three different countries, we conclude this study has the potential to expand understandings of under-utilized pedagogical spaces, such as freshwater and marine habitats, that offer young children opportunities to cultivate a more intimate relationship with the earth.


Publication title

Proceedings of the 69th OMEP World Assembly and International Conference




E Rogulj, A Višnjić Jevtić, A Jurčević - Lozančić




Faculty of Education


World Organisation for Early Childhood Education (OMEP)

Place of publication


Event title

69th OMEP World Assembly and International Conference

Event Venue

Opatija, Croatia

Date of Event (Start Date)


Date of Event (End Date)


Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Teaching and curriculum not elsewhere classified

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