Friday, October 16, 2009

Staying Healthy and Using the Outdoors

Physical fitness is becoming a part of many preschool curriculums and state early learning standards. Some of the findings show that simply having pathways for children to walk on keeps them moving and increases fitness levels. To help create pathways that keep children moving, the outdoor play area can simply have stepping stones going from one learning center to the next. There are other types of activities that can also be used as connectors such as multi-level balance beams, stepping pods, or a simple chalk line to walk on.
Programming our children into sports or simply providing 30 minutes of physical fitness exercise has not worked in improving our children’s health. The main difference between children today and children in the past is that children in the past moved continuously: walking from one friend’s house to another, playing in the neighborhood, etc. They were not necessarily running and jumping, just moving all day long. So creating outdoor environments that keep them moving is the best thing we can do for their health.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Create a City Outdoors

A preschool playground is a great place to set up a city. Creating a city outdoors is a wonderful thing that can be done simply with cardboard boxes. Children can decorate the boxes and cut out doors and windows. Then you can put these items along your bike path. Name your streets and label them, which will help with literacy. By using signs such as crosswalk, stop, railroad, and yield signs, children will have an opportunity to meet the early learning standard of recognizing environmental print. Take chalk outside and have children actually chalk crosswalks and parking spaces onto your concrete surfaces. They can even create a wheelchair spot, mimicking real life parking lots. Have fun with your bike path and incorporate it into your playground as if it were a city street. Let me hear your comments about unique things you have done with your bike path.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Fall outdoor Activities.

This is a great time of year to start a nature science corner on your playground. This is a place in the fall to collect everything that is falling to the ground, such as leaves sticks. Have children use magnifying glass to investigate these fall objects. In the nature center allow them to sort and classify leafs by different characteristics. This is a form of math and meets many states early learning standards.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Can you create a woodworking center outdoors?

Absolutely! Woodworking is a great part of the preschool curriculum. To help bring the outdoors alive, you can set up a small workbench and a few simple tools for children to use. Several programs I work with begin their woodworking curriculum right after Halloween every year. They take their leftover pumpkins and use them as something soft to hammer nails into for the first time. Large head roofing nails are easy nails to target with a hammer. When children master this they can move on to wood. At The Adventurous Child we also recommended that people use Styrofoam and golf tees as a beginning way to practice targeting and woodworking with children. I recommend having a woodworking center outdoors simply because it is a very noisy, very dusty activity, so the noise and dust can be left outdoors.