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

  • Cara D. Linzmayer Faculty of Physical Education and Recreation University of Alberta Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
  • Elizabeth A. Halpenny Faculty of Physical Education and Recreation University of Alberta Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Abstract

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.

Author Biographies

Cara D. Linzmayer, Faculty of Physical Education and Recreation University of Alberta Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
Cara Linzmayer completed her PhD in 2011 with the Faculty of Physical Education and Recreation (University of Alberta). She holds an MSW (University of Regina), a BSW (University of Calgary) and a BA in Sociology (University of Calgary). She currently has a counseling practice and has recently developed a nature-based preschool program for children aged 3-5 years. Her research interests include children and nature, mental health and nature-based interventions, and social work practice in rural communities.
Elizabeth A. Halpenny, Faculty of Physical Education and Recreation University of Alberta Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
Elizabeth Halpenny has a PhD in Recreation and Leisure Studies (Unv. of Waterloo), a MES in Environmental Studies (York Unv.), and a BA in Geography (Wilfrid Laurier Unv.). She currently teaches and conducts research in the areas of environmental psychology, tourism, marketing and protected areas planning and management. Elizabeth’s current research projects include: a) nature-based volunteerism, b) the affect of mobile digital technologies on tourists’ visitation experiences, and c) individual’s attitudes towards and use of natural areas. Elizabeth currently serves as membership director for the IUCN-WCPA Tourism and Protected Areas Specialist Group. She is also a founding member of the World Heritage and Tourism Research Network.
Published
2013-06-27
Section
Articles