“It was Fun”: An Evaluation of Sand Tray Pictures, an Innovative Visually Expressive Method for Researching Children’s Experiences with Nature

Cara D. Linzmayer, Elizabeth A. Halpenny


In order to study children’s subjective experiences, researchers need to employ methods that are interesting and engaging but at the same time can produce data that answers research questions. This article critically reflects on the use of an innovative visually expressive method, sand tray pictures, which allows children to communicate their multi-dimensional subjective experiences with nature. In this study, sand tray pictures were compared with photographs taken and pictures drawn by the children as approaches for understanding children’s experiences in a public botanic garden during a five-day summer camp. Sand trays were identified as a highly effective tool in eliciting insights about children’s subjective and socio-cultural experiences in nature.

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