This paper reports on a recent action research project, Enhancing environmental awareness through the arts. This project involved working with two early childhood professionals and 28 children in a long day care centre in the Sydney CBD at the end of 2006. Its aim was to assess the outcomes for the early childhood professionals, and for the children they worked with, of using arts-based pedagogies for enhancing environmental awareness. As the children in this centre had considerable indoor space but no outdoor space at all, the participating staff in the two-three-year-olds' room were interested in how this project could help to incorporate the natural environment into their programs.
This paper outlines the theory that underpins the research, the processes involved in developing and conducting it, and the findings. The findings show that the arts-based pedagogies applied throughout the project had a definite effect on the children's awareness of the natural environment (also referred to as the 'natural world' throughout this paper). This was demonstrated through how much the children talked about the natural environment, the way they incorporated concepts about it into their play and their attitudes toward it. The findings also show that the action research approach used throughout the project resulted in the two early childhood professionals developing new techniques for creating meaningful content for the program. This report also considers the questions that arose as a result of the research and suggests how they could be further explored.