Spaces for play: Listening to children's voices

Lynsey Burke (Lead / Corresponding author), Divya Jindal-Snape, Angela Lindsay, Susan Whyte, Mhairi Wallace, Duncan Mercieca, Megan McKenzie, Brenda Keatch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
25 Downloads (Pure)


This paper explores young children’s voices about their play spaces in one Scottish primary school. 45 children (ages 5-7 years) participated, choosing from a range of creative methods (e.g., InPhoTours, drawing, mapping) to share their voices. Using a ‘Playful Research Ethics Framework’, a developmentally appropriate framework which involved the use of visual aids, puppets, songs, Makaton symbols and discussions as well as attention to any cues of disengagement, this research aimed at achieving children’s ongoing informed assent. Four themes were identified: (a) the ‘whole child’ in the space, (b) space and relationships, (c) function of space, and (d) impact (or lack) of children’s voices about space. Children expressed differences in ownership, creativity and imagination in indoor and outdoor spaces. Further, despite perceiving there to be a lack of agency, children were willing to share their voices. There are implications for both practice and research in terms of adults willing to effectively listen to children’s voices and acting on them. This study makes original and significant contributions which have the potential to impact research and practice with young children internationally.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages24
JournalEducation 3-13
Early online date29 Feb 2024
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 29 Feb 2024


  • Playful Research Ethics Framework (PREF)
  • Space
  • children’s voices
  • creative methods
  • play
  • visual methods

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


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