Sunday, September 27, 2009

Can literacy be taught in the outdoor classroom?

There are many ways to bring literacy outside. Simply labeling and naming everything allows children to practice whole language. Have children make their own signs and tape them onto objects. One of my favorite things has been watching children journal outdoors and seeing what they view in the world versus what I view in the world. They tend to be more interested in the small spiders, squirrels and other creatures in the environment, where an adult tends to look more at the overall scenery.

Another way to provide literacy outdoors is using bookcases and art cases. A bookcase is simply anything that you create that is watertight and can be left outdoors so that children can access books or art supplies to do journaling or tell stories. The Adventurous Child actually has a bookcase/art case which is watertight and lockable with padlocks. Send me your ideas or comment on this blog with ideas of things that you could label outdoors, etc.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Music and the Outdoors

The Adventurous Child believes children benefit from music in the outdoor classroom. The main problem we find with doing music outdoors is that the instruments have to be made in such a way that vandals cannot damage or destroy the sounds the instruments make. Many playground musical instruments are not tuned and do not have contrasting sounds. This defeats the purpose of having music outside. Creating a chime panel that has a full scale and where each pipe on the panel is tuned allows children to hear the correct note and for a musically inclined person to actually play a song. For drums or drum panels, having contrasting sounds between each drum allows the children to discriminate between the sounds. Using flat aluminum bars, properly tuned, to create a xylophone is another excellent way to give children real instruments outdoors. Providing music outdoors helps create a classroom environment and adds interesting activities for children to use.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Why do children find the outdoors boring?

Inside, we tend to have lots of manipulatives for children: things that they can move and build with and adjust and change. When we take our children outdoors, we only provide them with static gross motor equipment or other static play items. Without manipulatives, the children quickly become bored and make manipulatives out of whatever they can find in the environment, such as turning a stick into a gun. Some ideas for manipulatives would be tubes through which the children can drop balls, sticks or any other objects they find and play with. Create a tracking panel or a gravel panel that children can drop objects down. A sand table, loaded with shovels and buckets so children can build and manipulate the sand, provides hours of enjoyment. Anything that can be used outdoors that will allow children to build and move and reshape their environment will create hours of interest and reduce supervision problems.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Can math be done better outdoors than indoors?

During the preschool years, a lot of math deals with classifying and categorizing objects into groups and sets. What better place than the outdoors to classify natural items such as grass, rocks, sticks, leaves and any other items that can be manipulated. An example would be a box full of rocks. If children are provided with a pile of rocks of different and varying sizes, they could use it to meet the early learning standards by taking rocks and sorting them by size, shape, color, weight, etc. Once they have classified their rocks, they could actually break them into sets of similar items, and add and subtract rocks from the sets. I have been amazed over the years observing children who know nothing about early learning standards, who do not know anything about math, but are simply sitting and playing and they naturally sort and classify rocks or any other object. The Adventurous Child provides a container called a Truck Pit, which holds ⅜” diameter pea gravel and smaller, for children to do exactly this. Please contact me or comment on other things that you know children can manipulate outdoors and how they use it to practice the early learning standards and math.