Winter is coming – but don’t let that stop you from embracing the great outdoors! Playing outdoors in the fresh, chilly open air can help build resistance and improve health.
When playing outside, children can run, jump, burn more calories and strengthen their muscles. Research shows that spending time in nature is also associated with improving mood and happiness. Giving children the opportunity to learn and develop outside from a young age, means they’re more likely to appreciate nature in their adult life.
Our friends at Cosy have some great tips on how you (and your little ones) can still enjoy outdoor learning and its many benefits as temperatures start to drop:
Tip #1 – Dress appropriately
As Sir Ranulph Fiennes once said, “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing” – putting on protective outdoor clothing is one of the most effective ways to keep children warm, dry, and comfortable when venturing outside.
Why not encourage independence by creating an organised transition area where children can change into winter clothing themselves?
Tip #2 – Keep moving
Movement is probably the second most effective way of keeping warm in colder months.
Construction and large loose parts in particular are a great way to keep the little ones moving as they encourage children to lift, climb, roll and build, while improving gross motor skills and at the same time challenging children to think critically.
Tip #3 - Make it safe
It’s a good idea to conduct a risk assessment of your outdoor areas in preparation for colder and wetter weather. Winter essentials like salt, grit and shovels will mean your outdoor areas are ready for whatever the winter brings.
Tip #4 - Grow and harvest
Believe it or not, there are some plants that grow better in colder seasons, meaning your little ones can enjoy gardening all year round.
Broccoli, onions, Brussels sprouts, and cabbages are great examples of vegetables that aren’t afraid of the cold – grab your gardening equipment and get those green fingers out.
Tip #5 - Create cosy spaces
Make spaces outside for children to find warmth when they need to; provide blankets, cushions and maybe a book or two? Sheds and playhouses are a great solution, but you could provide children with den building resources to try making one themselves.
Tip #6 Protect your equipment
It’s a good idea to invest in some outdoor shelters or sheds in order to store your equipment away safely and protect it from the elements, especially during winter months.
Tip #7 Use natural resources
With autumn comes fallen leaves and with winter comes snow! Some of the best resources can be found in the outdoors.
A mud kitchen is a great for collecting natural resources and allowing children to experiment with the changes that seasons like autumn and winter bring.
Tip #8 Use warm water and ice
Adding warm water to your sand and water resources and activities is a simple but affective way of keeping hands warm while teaching children about how water can make surfaces wet and slippery.
In winter, children can experiment with ice and learn about how it is formed – pour the warm water over the ice and show them what happens.
Don’t stay in overheated and poorly ventilated classrooms, where germs are recirculated and easily passed from one person to another, open your classroom or nursery door and step outside.
If you’re looking for some fantastic outdoor learning products that are made to last even through the winter months, check out the Cosy Collection at YPO.