Saturday, August 20, 2011

Outdoor Classroom Observations

I was able to observe something quite interesting the other day as we made our way out to our outdoor classroom.  Another class was already outside but had forgotten their key to the sheds. 

The guest teacher for that room met me at the gate with a look of desperation on her face!  "We forgot our key!  Do you have yours?"  As I pulled it out and handed it to her, I noticed the children.

I saw many of the children running in circles up and down the playground equipment... up the steps, down the slide, up the steps again and down the slide!  There were a few more, running in circles around the trike path...around and around in circles! 

Oh yes, THIS was how our outdoor time USED to be!  I had somehow forgotten!  It was actually quite good to be reminded of the purpose behind our slow transformation to MORE exploration, MANY more loose materials and simply more to focus on ... and more to do!

We managed to pull everything out quickly and get it set up.  The children settled down and got to work.  Four or five ran to the sand pit and began making "birthday cakes" with sand in bowls and buckets.  Several helped carry the musical instruments to their spot under the tree.  At least five decided to use the scarves and streamers as "feathers" and the flooring in a "house". 

A few others grabbed helmets and bikes and began riding.  One began building with tree cookies and blocks.  One pulled all the tubes out and slid them under the shelf and through the other side.  A few took loose parts of tubes, tree cookies and scarves to the top of the play equipment as their "house".  Several developed a game of tossing the bean bags over a tunnel and having a friend catch the bean bag on the other side.

Several boys began a game of "monster" and attempted to scare their friends as they peeked at them under the wall of the sand pit magnet board.  Several children explored musical instruments under the tree.  One child grabbed the basket of books to take under the tree.  Two or three children put the tubes on the magnet board and explored scooping sand into the tubes and creating longer and longer tubes with multiple pieces. 

EVERYONE was quickly busy!  Only minutes before they had been running in circles!  Keep in mind, many of these children are new to our program as well!  We really have done very little in way of an introduction to the loose materials outside.  Of course, the adults sit and work with the children when the children are interested in this interaction.   But, the children are  always exploring the materials and experimenting with these materials in their own way. 

Ahhh....much better than running in circles!

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