Young children’s exploration of the indoor play space in center-based childcare


Exploration plays a key role in the development of children. While exploring, children develop new skills by perceiving and acting upon the possibilities for action that are specified in the environment.

This study examined the relations between young children’s exploration during free play and the spatial characteristics of the indoor playroom space in childcare centers, using an observation scheme based on Gibson’s theory of perception-action affordances. The study was carried out in mixed-age groups, with ages ranging between 11 and 48 months. The results showed that depth of exploration of space was positively related to the use of tables and activity centers, and also to the child’s task-orientation as rated by the caregivers. Breadth of exploration revealed a reversed pattern of relations. The findings indicate that studying children’s exploration of indoor playroom space as affordances-guided perception-action cycles can contribute to a more comprehensive understanding of the role of spatial attributes in children’s exploratory play.

Reference van Liempd, H. M. J. A., Oudgenoeg-Paz, O., Fukkink, R. G., & Leseman, P. P. M. (2018). Young children’s exploration of the indoor play space in center-based childcare. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 43(2nd quarter), 33-41.
Published by  Centre for Applied Research in Education 1 January 2018

Publication date

Jan 2018


H. (Ine) M.J.A. van Liempd
Ora Oudgenoeg-Paz
Paul P.M. Leseman

Research database