With an ever-increasing emphasis on the benefits of outdoor play, it’s a wonderful opportunity for schools and settings to audit and extend their provision. It’s a wonderful sight to see children fully immersed in a quality outdoor learning environment, somewhere that enables challenge and motivation, as well as nurturing.
Water play resources are perfect for summer fun as the weather warms up. Children will have endless fun with the waterfall stands and channelling. You could even encourage them to help set up the equipment, sharing their ideas and problem solving as part of the play.
Water creates plenty of scope for children to be driven by their innate curiosity and desire to explore. Pouring water in one end, seeing where it appears, tipping and collecting, investigating capacity and thinking about the dynamics of water.
Add in some channelling chutes and guttering to extend open ended play further. Children can collaborate to arrange the equipment, working out which way makes the flow of water faster or slower.
Large Scale Construction with Loose Parts
Children love to busy themselves with construction equipment, relishing the challenge of being creative.
Loose parts are great for collaborative play, with children sharing ideas of what to make, how to make it and thinking up plans, all promoting communication and language development. Concepts of size and shape can be investigated as children experience the wonder of joining, fixing and creating. Completely open ended, children really can let their imaginations run wild – will it be a robot? A boat? Perhaps a rocket to travel to the moon!
Large scale mark making opportunities outdoors offer space for children to develop both creativity and emerging writing skills. Mark making resources encourage big movements and help develop the muscles in the neck, shoulders, and core, which are all essential for writing.
Children often draw and write on horizontal surfaces but the outdoors can offer space to change this up and provide areas for vertical mark making.
It’s important for children to be inspired to engage with writing and the right pieces of equipment can really motivate children to join in.
Something the outdoors is particularly good for is messy play. Children feel less inhibited, there’s more space to explore and being outside just offers so much more than being inside. By using water-based and natural products, it also means that cleaning up any mess is much easier.
Tables, trays and other high surfaces give enough room for children to gather round and explore messy play together.
Quiet and Sheltered Spaces
Finally, it’s important to offer quiet spaces for children to retreat to. If it gets a bit noisy, or children just want some time to watch what’s going on around them from a cosy space then something like a pod or playhouse would the perfect place to do just that.
Children can relax with a feeling of safety due to the small, enclosed space. Perhaps they choose to look at a book with a friend, have a chat or listen to the sounds around them. These spaces are essential to an enabling environment.
However you decide to equip your outdoor area, it’s important to view it as a space for unbounded possibilities. As Margaret McMillan reminds us, ‘The best classroom and the widest cupboard is roofed only by the sky.’
To find out more information about how Cosy can supply your early years setting with helpful learning resources, view the full Cosy collection!
Why not read another blog by Cosy for more outdoor resources and ideas? Learn how to create an outdoor learning environment now.