Tag Archives: outdoor
So much happens outside! We like to spend a lot of time outdoors because it’s packed with exciting opportunities to explore and express creativity. While outdoors, we often play structured games with Coach Chip or read books, sing songs, exercise and dance together. However, some of the best times we have are when we get to enjoy the beautiful weather and connect with one another in FREE PLAY!
Play matters in our school. We believe it is essential to a child’s mental, physical and social development. We created a short video of a couple of the beautiful moments captured from a morning outside. Continue reading
In their exploration of sea shells with the children, the teachers created a beach themed provocation that included a colorful canopy, sand, water, plants, wood and lots of sea shells! For this activity the teachers wanted the children to experience exploring with sea shells in a fun way that many of us are familiar in doing so-by the beach! Continue reading
The children made soup earlier this week in our outdoor kitchen space! While their hearts delighted in creating a concoction of mud, leaf, and dirt soup, their minds were working far beyond this as a result of pretend play. Pretend play has a major benefit to social, emotional, and mental development in children and leads to increased communication skills. Children are allowed to be whoever they want and create whatever they want in pretend play. According to Pollock, this process of looking for solutions to obstacles develops the analytical skills of your child and promotes resourcefulness, creativity, abstract thinking and logical reasoning. Most of us don’t give children real, raw materials to cook or bake with, so they substitute real foods with ones they can paly with, like leaves, mud, flowers, and water! When children stir and pan of soup and comment on how delicious the soup smells, they are recalling past memories and further developing their cognitive skills. This imaginary practice of cooking, serving, and preparing food is beautiful to watch because the children are mimicking things they learn from their parents!
Last week, a few teachers were observing the children in the dress up area when we overheard them talking about camping. The children were using their imagination to create a pretend campsite where they were gathering different foods to put together and pretending to sleep in sleeping bags. They laughed and giggled while they pretended to eat marshmallows around a campfire. To encourage the children to express their knowledge of camping in a different way (thus deepening their understanding of the topic), we provided them with paper and markers and asked them to draw what a camping area looks like and the tools a camping area needs. Below are a few of the items that were drawn and discussed:
- A backpack
- Hot dogs
- Sleeping bags
- Campout books
- A tent
- Something to sit around fire
Based on this discussion and the drawings, we provided the children with materials like tents, pillows, and blankets for the afternoon. Our goal was to encourage the children to pretend like they were camping; however their creativity far surpassed our expectations. They enjoyed lying in the tents and pretending to sleep, however once they saw the tents outside the door, they decided that they just had to build a campfire! Since we conveniently had several pieces of wood outside, the children worked together to organize the wood and other materials outside the classroom and create their own campfire. While we are more than willing to go above and beyond to let the children learn, we encouraged them to use their imaginations with the actual fire 😉
In order to create a campfire, the children gathered several pieces of warm colored paper and rolled it into a ball. After placing the “fire” in the middle of the wood pile, the texture differences were astounding! We discussed how the wood was rough, hard, flakey, and not easily moldable, while the paper was shiny, smooth, thin, brightly colored, and easily bendable. After their campfire was finished, the children gathered around and held their hands to their faces (pretending to be cold) and eventually sat around the campfire.
While this activity didn’t teach the children much about camping and survival, it was a wonderful exercise for pretend play. Studies across the globe have demonstrated the cognitive benefits associated with pretend play, like increases in language usage, organization, divergent thinking, ability to integrate emotion with cognition, and the expression of both positive and negative feelings. According to researchers, when children use toys to introduce possible scenarios or friends, the representation of multiple perspectives occurs naturally. Taking on different roles allows children the unique opportunity to learn social skills such as communication, problem solving, and empathy. Moreover, several researchers have concluded that an important benefit of early pretend play is its enhancement of the child’s capacity for cognitive flexibility and ultimately creativity. So why is pretend play important? It increases children’s imaginativeness, curiosity, and can help down the road when children are learning about complex mathematical concepts and reading advanced books!
“Imaginative play is a precursor of conceptual thought – in which possibilities are explored upon the inner ‘stage’ of a child’s imagination.”
– Erik Erikson
*We are hoping parents could bring materials that could help us in transforming our dress up area into a camping area. Please bring any and all materials; this would be of great help in continuing the project!
“Study nature, love nature, stay close to nature.
It will never fail you.” – Frank Lloyd Wright
One evening it poured down rain. When we arrived at school the next day, our playground area was one big, wet, muddy mess. Instead of forbidding the children to play in the mud, we embraced it. We allowed the toddlers to put on their boots, enjoy the mud and water play, and most importantly, explore nature. They splashed, stomped, and felt the wet mud in their hands.