Home » Catalog » The Honeycomb Hypothesis: How Infants, Toddlers and Two-Year-Olds Learn Through Nature Play

The Honeycomb Hypothesis: How Infants, Toddlers and Two-Year-Olds Learn Through Nature Play

by Sandra Duncan, EdD, Sue Penix, and Sally Haughey
ITEM #: 3600585
Canadian customers can now save on shipping by ordering through the distributor, Login Canada.


As honeybees instinctively gather and store pollen, young children accumulate understandings through play, novelty, and repeating patterns of movement.

Three leaders in early care and education explore this premise with expertise and whimsy, sharing creative, delightful ways to spark the youngest imaginations. The Honeycomb Hypothesis will enliven your teaching practice with original ideas, materials and activities, celebrating the magic that happens when children and nature are brought together with intention and inspiration.


“The Honeycomb Hypothesis is the perfect title for a book rich in creativity. The book overflows with exciting ideas and interesting analogies about how infants, toddlers and twos learn and grow. While a hypothesis in some situations may keep you guessing, this book doesn’t. From the philosophical framework presented in Part I, to the more than one hundred nature-based activities offered in Part II, to the “pulling it all together” discussion in Part III, this book is sure to give readers a clear roadmap for enriching the lives of very young children.”
- Ruth Wilson, Ph.D., Research Library Curator, Children and Nature Network, Author of Nature and Young Children and Learning Is In Bloom

“The Honeycomb framework invites us into the fascinating world of young children’s natural play and learning through a combination of research and simple, practical suggestions. Based on Jean Piaget’s theory of cognitive development and Edward O. Wilson’s theory of biophilia we are led into a wonderous natural world all children have the right to explore and be immersed in. This treasure is filled with helpful notes, simple recipes and jewels of information and knowledge. A book that should be required reading for anyone working with young children”
- Niki Buchan, International Educational Consultant, Natural Learning Early Childhood Consultancy

The Honeycomb Hypothesis Image with Flowers




  • Patterns of Nature
  • Patterns of Play
  • The Honey Bee’s Journey
  • Players in The Honeycomb Hypothesis
  • Pedagogical Practices for The Honeycomb Hypothesis
  • Strategies for Supporting Children’s Patterns of Play


  • Young Children are Meaning Makers
  • Natural Materials are Meaning Makers
  • Tips for Collecting Nature
  • Safety and Precautions for Nature Explorations


  • Exceptional Earth
  • Wondrous Water
  • Fantastic Flora & Fauna
  • Connecting with Concoctions


  • The Honey Bee’s Learning Environment
  • The Honeycomb Hypothesis and Piaget: Exploring to Learn
  • The Honey Bee’s Flight Pattern to Understanding
  • Novelty is the Pedagogy of the Third Teacher


About the Authors

SANDRA DUNCAN works to assure the miracle and magic of childhood through indoor and outdoor classroom environments that are intentionally designed to connect young children to their classrooms, communities, and neighborhoods. Dr. Duncan is an international consultant, author of six books focused on the environmental design of early childhood classrooms, designer of two furniture collections called Sense of Place and Sense of Place for Wee Ones, and adjunct faculty at Nova Southeastern University. Sandra has designed university courses on indoor and outdoor learning environments, collaborating with architects, interior designers and educators to create extraordinary places and possibilities for children and students of all ages. Sandra is a water-bug, which means she thoroughly enjoys being on or near the water - especially saltwater. Sandra’s idea of a terrific time is to walk along the seashore, find gifts from the sea, and share these beautiful treasures with her granddaughter, Sierra.

SUE PENIX has served in the field of Early Childhood Education for over 40 years and holds a degree in Early Childhood Education with a minor in Special Education. She currently works for the Baltimore City Child Care Resource Center as an Infant and Toddler Specialist, trainer and a Nature Educator Consultant. Sue is a facilitator of a total nature emergence training program for childcare programs throughout Baltimore City, and serves as the Board President for the Eastern Region Association of Forest and Nature Schools. Sue has presented numerous sessions on Nature Based Learning at local and national conferences and is a certified trainer for the Growing Up Wild Curriculum through the Department of Natural Resources in Maryland. Her backyard is a certified natural wildlife habitat through the National Wildlife Federation. Sue is also an avid camper and the very proud grandmother of two little girls, Adalena and Julie who love and adore nature.

SALLY HAUGHEY is the CEO and Founder of Fairy Dust Teaching. Fairy Dust Teaching is built on the passion for the wonder and magic of early childhood the idea that young children have the right to play, to be collaborators in learning, and to dream. After 20 years of successfully teaching in various school settings, she has committed herself on what she loves most: Empowering and Inspiring Educators! Her focus is to provide a deeper level of service and training that help educators own their true teaching self. Sally has now worked with over 100,000 educators in her online e-courses and workshops. Sally loves to watercolor paint and spend time creating beautiful messes with her grandsons.

ISBN: 978-0-942702-79-8