Children's perceptions of river landscapes and play: What children's photographs reveal

Sylvia Tunstall, Susan Tapsell, Margaret House

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Citations (Scopus)


The insights that children's photography can provide into children's perceptions of river landscapes and play opportunities are focused upon, based on an analysis of over 500 photographs and comments generated during visits to two London rivers by children aged nine to eleven from three nearby schools. In their photographs, the children recognized the aesthetic appeal of specific natural features of the river landscapes, particularly trees. Some also appreciated broader river landscape 'views'. The rivers themselves were seen as littered and polluted. Dangers were identified, but these were not seen as unmanageable. The children recognized the special character of the rivers as play places affording varied, adventurous and manipulable play opportunities, but wanted cleaner, safer, more accessible and managed rivers. Some differences were found in the responses of boys and girls and in the children's responses to the two rivers. The urban children taking part in the study showed little understanding of the functions that living and decaying riverside vegetation might have in river ecology, indicating a need for more environmental education.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)181-204
Number of pages24
JournalLandscape Research
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2004


  • Children
  • Perception
  • Play
  • River management
  • Rivers


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