Thursday, July 30, 2009
“What do we want children to gain on the preschool playground? Are these the same things they gain outdoors?”
Yes, in many ways the goals of what we want children to learn in the outdoor classroom are the same as the inside classroom. The Adventurous Child would like to see children develop socially, emotionally, cognitively, physically, etc. in outdoor settings where there is nature and movement all around.
One important area of the preschool curriculum is providing social experiences which create cooperation and parallel play. Having quiet gathering areas like a willow hut, a playhouse, or a store front puts children in situations where they interact with each other. These learning centers really come alive with the buzzing of busy children when manipulatives are provided. The playhouse can have dress up clothes for social and dramatic play. Fake money to buy and sell things also provides manipulatives. A willow hut can have pots and pans for cooking a group’s favorite mud stew with meat sticks. Bits of grass can be used for anything.
When choosing manipulatives to create social interaction, pick items that help you meet your state’s Early Learning Standards. If you want to know more about something specific please feel free to comment or to contact me.
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
The easy way to create an outdoor classroom is to mimic how we look at indoor classrooms outside. At the beginning of each school year when buying equipment for our classrooms and setting up the space, we do not ask what children will like, but rather we ask, what do our children need to gain from their time with us? For the playground we should do the same things: not ask if children like slides, decks, and tunnels, but ask “What do we want them to gain from these outdoor experiences?” The Adventurous Child recommends that just like the indoor classroom, there should be many different learning centers that meet your state’s Early Learning Standards. As with the indoor classroom, manipulatives and free choice should abound. Each week, this blog will discuss concrete ideas and ways to determine what children can gain outdoors and specific ideas of what you can do outdoors. If you have any questions, do not hesitate to comment or to contact me!