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Children’s Special Places

Exploring the Role of Forts, Dens, and Bush Houses in Middle Childhood

David Sobel

Publication Year: 2001

From the ages of five to twelve, the middle years of childhood, young people explore their surroundings and find or construct private spaces. In these secret places, children develop and control environments of their own and enjoy freedom from the rules of the adult world. Children's Special Places enters these hidden worlds, reveals their importance to children's development and emotional health, and shows educators, parents, and other adults how they can foster a bond between young people and nature that is important to maturation.

Published by: Wayne State University Press

Series: Landscapes of Childhood


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pp. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. 2-5


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pp. v-vi

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pp. vii-xvi

How societies use and create spaces for children—day care centers, schools, theme parks, video games— determines how the next generation will see reality. Those who design software for kids or the play areas at fast food restaurants replicate some mental picture of users' joy ...

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1. The Search

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pp. 1-14

The fort at Sterling's house called to me each time I passed by on the way to the bus stop. Snuggled into the pine duff underneath the looming trees, the structure grew up out of the soil like a mushroom. An organic presence hovered around it; the fort belonged here as did the squirrels and rabbits. ...

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2. Entering the Child's World

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pp. 15-48

My work with children in Devon was organized into two phases. From September through November, I visited Denbury Primary School twice a week. During the day I met with three or four children at a time for periods of approximately one hour and fifteen minutes. They drew maps and I interviewed each one during this time. ...

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3. Finding a Place to Discover a Self

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pp. 49-74

Ever since Freud dubbed middle childhood the "latency period," many psychologists and educators have relegated it to the nether world of insignificance. If the individual is latent during this period, then it follows that no developments of great importance transpire. ...

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4. Try to Remember

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pp. 75-112

When I first read Edith Cobb's "The Ecology of Imagination in Childhood" I got tingles up and down my spine. I felt it had been written just for me. This article was first published in Daedalus in 1959 but was popularized by inclusion in The Subversive Science in 1969.1 ...

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5. Making a Place in the Curriculum

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pp. 113-154

Alex led the way down the bank and into a dark tunnel through the brambles. "Cat's Alley" he murmured back at me. "We call it that because in the summer, only cats can make it through here." On my hands and knees, I scrambled along the passageway and found Alex sitting with his legs crossed next to an abandoned fifty-five-gallon drum. ...

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6. The Evolution of a Sense of Place

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pp. 155-162

I have a favorite mile-and-a-half walk in a circuit from my house. Heading east, I walk along the gravel road, past a plantation of red pines and then a sugar bush. Sometimes a barred owl will push ahead of me, down the tunnel of the road. I turn off onto the Monadnock Sunapee trail, rising through hardwoods and then rolling through hemlock and yew. ...


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pp. 163-166


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pp. 167-170

E-ISBN-13: 9780814337622
Print-ISBN-13: 9780814330265

Page Count: 192
Illustrations: 11
Publication Year: 2001

Series Title: Landscapes of Childhood
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OCLC Number: 849944505
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Children’s Special Places

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Play -- Psychological aspects.
  • Children's playhouses -- Psychological aspects.
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