Create Outdoor Preschool Learning Spaces
Are you looking to spend more time outside in your childcare program? Whether you you just want to update your outdoor space, or intentionally want to create your own outdoor classroom-there is nothing quite like spending your learning time outside! The warm sun on your face, a gentle breeze, and nature buzzing all around you.
Just as you set up learning spaces inside, you can set them up outside as well! Keep reading to find some fun ways to design your own responsive outdoor spaces for art, dramatic play, engineering, science, reading, music, and of course-physical development with a little elbow grease, and creativity.
Create a Space for Art Outside
Outdoor Physical Development
Being outside fills children's lungs with fresh air, and allows them to use their large muscles for running and climbing.
Make sure your outdoor space should be equipped to allow the children to explore the area independently.
There are a variety of outdoor structures available to meet the gross motor needs of the children in your care. A quality play structure is a great investment in your business. They often include a slide, swings, climbing walls, and built in play houses. Keep in mind most states have requirements for safety surfacing when adding structures over a certain height.
If you don't have a lot of space for a structure: consider a tunnel, balance beam, trikes, cozy coupes, wagons, other ride on toys,tires, low stumps for climbing, or a natural slide built into your existing landscape.
Other items to have on hand for outdoor play include:
Music brings such joy! Create a music wall in your backyard, by securing a variety of recycled items to a wall or fence. If you don't have space to dedicate to a music wall, consider a portable option such as a tote filled with plastic instruments, a small battery operated radio, or pans and wooden spoons for an impromptu marching band.
Find more ideas for an outdoor Music Wall on this blog post.
Create a Space for Gathering
Create a space outside for your children to gather. Group activities are fun outside! Your gathering area can be as simple as a picnic blanket on the lawn-to something as elaborate as an outdoor covered area. Keep in mind a space for children to gather on their own, setting up small group activities and even a circle time space!
An outdoor picnic table provides a place to serve outdoor snacks, and meals. It also provides a quiet space for children to draw or do a table top activity while outside.
Small World Play, Engineering, and Construction
Children love to dig!
In addition to Sandboxes, you can also create dig pits filled with wood chips, or gravel for digging and filling.
Provide an assortment of loose building materials for hauling, building, and sorting such as:
Provide boxes, crates, scoops, strainers, wagons, and buckets for hauling and digging. Give children free range to engineer their own toys, and explore these items.
An Outdoor Space for Pretend Play
Provide small pretend people. animals, and accessories for creating a small worlds in your outdoor space.
Let their imaginations run free with open ended spaces for dramatic play. A playhouse can be furnished with an outdoor friendly kitchen, dolls, and play food. An open ended playhouse can become a Grocery Store, Movie Theater, Restaurant, or Post Office (Just provide a prop box).
A mud kitchen provides hours of outdoor fun. A plastic kitchen set, plastic crate or small outdoor table can become an instant mud kitchen. For a small space, consider a clear plastic bin that can be transformed into a "pretend oven"-store your cooking items inside for an easy pick up.
You can find many items for your outdoor dramatic play area from thrift stores, yard sales, or handed down from your clients.
Provide a box of items for outdoor dramatic play such as:
You can inspire children to perform by creating a back yard theater. A simple shower curtain on a rod or clothesline will do the trick! Provider a box of costumes, and props, or a box of instruments for an impromptu backyard concert.
Explore Science and Math Outside
Create a children's garden in your space. Plant vegetables that the children can observe, care for and eventually eat as part of their snack. If you are limited on space consider container gardening, or agrow bag for a temporary garden. Provide the children with tools, seeds, and watering cans to care for their plants. You can create a simple DIY watering can from a milk jug with a few holes punched into the bottom.
Bring your sensory table outside, or invest in a small water table for children to explore water. and other sensory experiences in the great outdoors!
Find more Outdoor Water Play ideas on our blog.
Explore Language & Literacy Outside
Create a comfy and cozy place for children to read books outside!
If you are short on space consider adding a
basket of of books to a shaded area.
Having an outdoor table and chairs provides a space for writing, and drawing.
With a little bit of planning and creativity you can spend the majority of your day outside learning!
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