Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Education




Early Childhood Education

Capstone Instructor

Dr. Kelly Sadlovsky

Second Reader

Dr. Tamara Nuttall


nature-based learning, whole child development, developmentally appropriate practices (DAP), scaffolding, authentic assessments


As nature-based learning is gaining momentum in early childhood education programs (Jordan & Chawla, 2019), this is an opportunity for early childhood educators to recognize how nature-based learning can support the healthy overall development of preschoolers in early childhood education. The purpose of this capstone project was to evaluate current research to understand how nature-based learning can provide equitable learning opportunities for preschoolers enrolled in early childhood education programs. Knowing what nature-based learning opportunities are, early childhood educators can incorporate developmentally appropriate practices (NAEYC, 2020), along with scaffolding, and the use of authentic assessments and observations to provide evidence of what and how the child is learning (Snyder & Delgado, 2019). The findings indicate how nature affects what children learn and how children learn. There needs to be opportunities for children to have guided and free play in an outdoor environment to support children’s overall wellbeing (Nedovic & Morrissey, 2013). Early childhood educators need to be provided with professional development opportunities to build on an educator’s current knowledge on child development. Using developmentally appropriate practices and following the NAEYCS guiding principles (NAEYC, 2020) to provide equitable learning opportunities in nature, so children can explore, experiment, engage, use appropriate risk taking, problem solve, and master skills to support whole child learning.