Wednesday, August 19, 2009

What can be done better outdoors than indoors? Part 2

Loud, noisy items are wonderful things to use outdoors. Children do not have to use their quiet indoor voices; they can whoop and holler and express themselves in different ways out on the playground than they can indoors. Musical instruments are a wonderful thing outside. They emit soft and loud noises and allow children to express themselves using different tools that make sounds. Large drum sets on the playground that make deep, bass sounds create both a sensory input from vibration of the instrument as well as the sound. Drums can also be make from pots and pans that may be in your cooking area. Chime panels and xylophones provide another opportunity for children to actually play and hear the notes in a full scale. There are many Early Learning Standards that are met by allowing children to use musical instruments and play and make loud sounds and noises. A good reference for which Early Learning Standards are met by using musical instruments is on The Adventurous Child’s web site. What ways have you seen children make sounds outdoors?

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

What can be done better outdoors than indoors?

For today’s blog, I am going to focus on messy things and why it is so much better to do them outdoors. I think of a preschool art easel and how much work teachers go to indoors, taping newspaper on the walls and the floors to make sure if children splatter paint or spill things, they can easily clean up the space. Outdoors, if we are using a biodegradable paint, there is no need for this. We can simply let the paint hit the grass and biodegrade. Also, when it comes to clean up with an outdoor art easel, you just take your water hose and squirt it down. Sensory tables frequently have messy items put in them that require clean up after use. Many times the items we put in a sensory table are biodegradable, such as bird seed, cornmeal, oats, etc. Take messy sensory table activities outdoors, so when children spill things the local birds and creatures will clean up after them. This brings wildlife to your playground, which is another important asset to an outdoor classroom. If you have ideas or questions on things that can be done better outdoors, please comment or contact me.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

“Can children learn more about the weather by discussing it outdoors each day?”

Weather is an abstract concept when discussed from the confines of an indoor classroom. Outdoors weather can be a concrete learning experience that provides interaction with all of a child’s senses. A child can hear the wind, feel the wind, and see trees swaying in the wind. Air actually has a smell just before it rains, while rain affects all senses.

Items needed to create a great outdoor preschool weather station might include: thermometer, rain gauge, barometer, weather vane, and a place to record the weather at different times of the day. Each day at the end of outdoor play time, use the weather learning center as a transition point before going inside. Discuss the temperature, is it cloudy or sunny, will it rain based on the barometer, etc. The Adventurous Child web site has a great list of Early Learning Standards that pertain to the weather.

Please send me your ideas or questions on creating an outdoor classroom for preschool children.