Regular opportunities to explore and learn in an outdoor environment supports the development of a healthy and active lifestyle in young children and also offers them opportunities for physical activities and promotes a sense of well-being. The outdoors offers unique experiences for young children such as direct contact with the weather and seasons. The sensory and physical experiences young children encounter outdoors supports brain development.
Outdoor learning is enhanced by an environment that is resourced with play materials that can be adapted and used in different ways. These non-prescriptive play resources can be used in imaginative ways as the children can make up their own games with them. Some of these outdoor resources include:
A Garden for growing various fruits, vegetable and plants allow the children to experience life processes and can be a great way to teach them a little bit about science at the same time. Having multiple planting beds gives children the opportunity to practice on one without harming their growing plants.
Research has proven that simply being in a natural space increases wellbeing, builds self-worth and reduces stress. Encouraging young children to play and explore outdoors aids in their understanding of life processes work and introduces them to the idea of sustainability. Trees and woodland areas are perfect as they allow children to build dens, climb and do activities such as bark rubbings. Other good natural spaces to take young children are grasslands, wetlands and hedgerows, the dynamic environments stimulate the natural curiosity of children.
As much as children need outdoor activity, they also need quiet areas where they can relax alone or socialise with friends. These areas can includes woodlands, gardens, enclosed areas or simply seating such as rugs or beanbags. This allows young children to develop a sense of wonder about the world around them and is important for their wellbeing.
An area for children to express their creativity is crucial for their development, the outdoors allows for many opportunities to experiment with both sounds and materials as well as role play, singing and storytelling. Children have plenty of mark making opportunities outdoors such as chalk on hard surfaces, sticks in mud, brushes in water or charcoal on wood. Children can also make their own wind chimes or use metal pots and pans and homemade shakers to create different music and sounds.
A variety of surfaces with different textures and hardness encourages the young children to play and explore whilst developing their gross motor skills and providing opportunities for them to discover new things. A few of the different surfaces you can look for include:
- Short and Long Grass
- Earth and Mud
- Rocks and Stones
- Slopes and Hills
- Hard Top (e.g. concrete or asphalt)
If you’re limited to a hard surface play area then you can use old tyres, paddling pools or buckets to fill with the different surfaces so the children can still get a sensory experience.
Outdoor Play Equipment
As well as the natural outdoors there are also specific pieces of play equipment designed for outdoor use such as kitchens, shops and theatres that children can use for group role play and climbing frames that help to improve their coordination as well as gross motor skills.
Here at Early Learning Furniture we are launching a brand new range of outdoor play equipment perfect for nurseries, primary schools and the home.
If you have any questions feel free to contact us on 01733 511121 or email us at [email protected]