We forget sometimes that the outside is just as big a part of the learning environment as the inside. Yes, it’s where we run, jump, climb, play tag, and dump sand. But it’s also where we can build, count, make music, engage in dramatic play, create art, and practice our social-emotional skills. Ways you can help enhance your outdoor space as a learning environment:
These kids have been at this table for almost 2 hours!
Be one with the dirt, mud, and water: Kids are drawn to these elements. Support their interest in this. Provide shovels, measuring cups, pitchers, funnels, and spoons. Talk with them about how they think it’s all made and what happens when it’s combined. Liquids, solids, weight, volume, temperature = Science!
Air Guitar Hero
Incorporate musical instruments on the playground: Hang pots and pans on the fence, bring out some of your older instruments, or create drum sets with stumps and buckets. Wind chimes are awesome in the tree branches and big pieces of wood can become guitars. Bet ya the kids will form a parade and put on a show for you in a matter of minutes.
Washable Paint & Plexiglass = reusable canvas
Bring the art materials outside: Let the kids paint the fences, draw on the sidewalk with chalk, and create rock sculptures. What better place to let them get messy and you don’t have to clean up the paint!
Loose parts in the sand box = dramatic play opportunities
Add loose parts: Cardboard boxes, pvc pipe, small blocks, sticks, and rocks can be used for dramatic play, building, art, or science and math.
Almost every activity you can do inside, you can do outside. We can continue teaching on the playground, and use the time of day that almost every child is the most excited about, to really connect and enhance their learning experiences.