Your Essential Checklist for Outdoor Learning and Play
Outdoor learning can be whatever you make of it. You can use a lot of resources or a little, purchased products or nature’s finds. It can be shaped in any which way you want but still offers the same learning benefits and experiences. In this blog we share 6 essential factors to consider for outdoor learning. These are selected for you to ensure you can provide children with vital outdoor learning benefits all year round.
1. Outdoor Clothing
First and foremost, dressing for the weather is key and the first step in facilitating outdoor learning and play. With the right clothing, children can get outdoors whatever the weather. Make sure the children in your setting have:
- Waterproof coats or all-in-ones
- Warm socks
- Appropriate shoes
- Sun hats and sun cream in warmer weather
- Woolly hats and gloves in colder weather
2. Wallets or Packing Plastic for Worksheets
Having resources that can protect worksheets are vital to ensure that outdoor learning can be facilitated all year round.
- Worksheet pockets are a great option for children to slip worksheets into to keep them protected
- Another option is to use portable individual whiteboards to be used over and over again
3. Provision to facilitate independent learning
Child led learning forms a big part of a child’s outdoor experience. Remember to step back and give children free time to explore by providing an array of resources to support this. Such resources could include:
- Magnifying glasses to examine nature up close
- Treasure tubes or tubs to collect items found in the great outdoors to study later and discuss
4. Seating Provision
Providing seating in your outdoor space is yet another way to ensure that outdoor play is not cut short unnecessarily. The style of seating can be tailored to the size of your space and need not be difficult to store.
- Firstly, waterproof mats provide a great option that can be folded and stored away easily. Why not use old table cloths or splash mats)
- Alternatively, upcycled resources such as crates or tyres are an affordable, versatile option. Easy to lift and move, children can set up learning areas wherever they like and pop a cushion on top to create a makeshift seat. Afterwards, crates and tyres can be easily stacked and stored.
5. Versatile and Sturdy Resources
Make sure to carefully consider the resources you wish to use in your outdoor lessons as these can become very costly.
- Incorporating resources that are versatile and can be used indoors and outdoors, are a great way to make the transition to the outdoors seamless and reduce costs.
- Likewise, open ended products that allow children to freely explore and independently learn are a great option for outdoor play as they offer a variety of uses
- Finally, resources need not be bought, natural resources can be used for a wealth of different activities! Children can forage for items like pebbles and sticks and these can be used for a variety of games such as creating transient art, counting or imaginative play.
6. Consider some form of shelter
Finally, as we all know, the UK weather is often unpredictable and can change quickly and unexpectedly. So as not to scupper any plans you may have for outdoor learning, why not invest in some sort of shelter for your outdoor space? This could be a larger piece of outdoor furniture such as a gazebo or wooden play shelter, or you could get creative with a den making kit and use tarpaulin and rope to create a waterproof shelter for children to sit beneath.
Including your little ones in the creation of your DIY shelter will also help them to develop their motor, teamwork and problem-solving skills as they construct the perfect den.
It is important to remember that getting outdoors need not require a lot of planning or resources but instead, a little patience and imagination. This approach will ensure you can get outside with your little ones whatever the weather and your children will reap the endless benefits of outdoor learning and play that is becoming increasingly popular amongst early years educators.