Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Taking Things Outside

Crayons Outside

As I’ve said, we like to go outside whenever possible.  We sometimes leave our classroom door open so kids can wander in and out to the play yard at will.  When we do that we move some of our usual indoor things outside.

Here is a crayon setup from earlier in the year.  With the twos I often secure paper down so they don’t have to worry about it moving while they work with things that have some resistance, like crayons.  As they get better at it I remove the tape or whatever I’m using to secure the paper down.  This is a picture of a little table that can be flipped over to make a seesaw.  I’ve taped the paper down.  There are actually several layers of paper so I can pull them off as needed without taping down more paper while children are waiting.  At the beginning of the year the children aren’t as attached to the product as they become over the course of the year, so multiple children worked on this piece before someone was ready for a fresh piece of paper.

Outdoor Xylophone

The picture on the right is a nice musical instrument the music teacher brought outside.  It’s closely related to the xylophone, but darn it all if I can’t remember what its true name is.  Anyway, this is not an outdoor instrument.  It has to be pulled back inside at the end of the day.  The children are used to seeing it in our gross motor room, so having it outside is a real treat.  I took this picture before school started.  I don’t think it sat idle for more than a few minutes all morning. 

In addition to moving things like this outside, we also try to have regular classroom things outside.  In the toddler yard we added a small play kitchen.  For the older children there are various large building toys.  We bring books outside and leave them on blankets or benches.  Obviously, our music teacher comes outside and brings all her cart full of instruments with her.  All of this is in addition to our permanent outdoor offerings, like sand and water (and associated toys), and play structures.  We try very hard to make the outdoors a true extension of our indoor classrooms.

What I want you to notice is that we aren’t afraid to take our indoors out whenever possible.  There are some things that don’t go outside, like our classroom shopping cart, because we’ve learned from painful experience that some of those things just can’t endure the use they’ll get outside.  But we push the limits wherever possible and accept that some things may get used up.

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