Designerly Play and the Mud Pool Using Designerly Play as a Lens to View Young Children Experiencing Forest School


  • Kimberley Olliff Cooper King Alfred School
  • Tony Lawler
  • Chris Raymond
  • Kay Stables


This paper reports on the introduction of outdoor learning and Forest School experiences to young children by a Forest School and primary-trained teacher and a secondary Forest School and Design and Technology specialist. Their backgrounds allowed the leaders and the class teachers to develop a deeper understanding of how play can lay the foundations for students to access and feel more engaged in their learning. In addition, they discovered that the activity of designerly play was directly linked to developing the ‘characteristics of effective learning’ such as reflection, meta learning and independence, which are essential basic skills in their own right. Developing these skills gave a direct link to ‘what designers do’ and related aspects of learning, such as creativity. The project reported was the result of setting up and running sessions with pupils aged 5 to 7 years of age in three phases over 18 months in Forest School experiences. The outcomes indicate the success of the project in the well-being and engagement of the students and their class teachers, plus the extra insight this gave teachers into their students’ potential designerly capability. It discusses the implications of expanding such a philosophy and the conflicts it will face in the present education of young people.




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Olliff Cooper, K., Lawler, T. ., Raymond, C., & Stables, K. (2021). Designerly Play and the Mud Pool: Using Designerly Play as a Lens to View Young Children Experiencing Forest School. Techne serien - Forskning i slöjdpedagogik och slöjdvetenskap, 28(2), 166–172. Hämtad från