The Blue Car in the Forest: Exploring Children’s Experiences of Sustainability in a Canadian Forest

  • Debra Harwood Brock University


An abandoned blue car from 1958 is a central figure of the qualitative exploration of sustainability pedagogies within a Canadian nature school. The mystery of the car and its entanglement within a densely-forested area where the preschool children play and learn is provocative. As part of a larger ethnographic case study of the nature school, eight young children (3-5-year-olds) and their two nature teachers’ critical engagement with the car is examined over the course of a year. The research approach for the data collection and analysis included photos, videos, participant-observations, educator journals, and children’s oral and written expressions of their ideas related to the project and sustainability. This small scale study offers a glimpse into the possibilities that emerge when we include children’s thinking, decisions, and actions within the more-than-human world to foster sustainability.

Author Biography

Debra Harwood, Brock University

Debra Harwood is an academic and early childhood education scholar at Brock University, Canada. Debra’s research is situated within a framework of challenging the social, political, cultural , and historical forces that have shaped central ideas such as care, professionalism, child agency, place, and intra-active pedagogy. Her most recent project involves a study of young children’s entanglements within a forest, specifically examining how relationships with the more-than-human world might foster ways of being that support a more sustainable planet.