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We want to revamp our outdoor provision this year? Do you have successful areas in your settings that you could let us know about?

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Hi! This is what we have in our setting, but I'm always on the lookout for more ideas :o

* A "prop box" containing pieces of material, binoculars, notebooks and pencils, toy cameras, and all sorts of items that the children can use to create an outside story/role play/drama.

* A box of books for outside story-reading sessions

* A rough patch of ground for digging; "people at work" signs;

* A "science/investigation" area, e.g. plastic drainpipes, table-tennis balls, large pieces of wood for ramps, trucks and cars for rolling, buckets and pulleys, water table for floating/sinking activities

* A large covered sandpit and playhouse

 

I'd love to hear about other people's ideas :)

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Hi all!

My names Clare (Welsh) and im a reception/yr 1 teacher. im in my 4th year of teaching (previously i taught pure reception). LAst year, as part of my early years MA 'change project' i managed to talk our head into letting us construct an outdoor learning area for our 2 reception classes. This is now up and running and still developing, but my particular area of interest now (for my dissertation)is how we develop our planning to incorporate the outdoor area in the best and most meaningful way. At the moment it is included in our weekly plan, with a section in each learning area. I know some schools/nurseries have a separate plan for the outdoor area as i am gradually collecting examples from other schools/nurseries. How different ways of planning impact on the childrens learning is another interest. If anyone could help with this area at all i would be grateful as there is a dearth of uptodate literature! (ive got the marjorie ouvry and helen bilton books).

Thanks.

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Hi Clare - and welcome to the forum! :D

Don't know if the American site was any use to you, but I thought I'd put a plea for help on the front page in a day or so, and maybe set up a forum (or at least a topic) dedicated to discussions on outside play. It sounds like it could be really interesting!

 

Thanks again for coming along, and I hope you'll enjoy getting to know the members and their interests.

 

Regards, Steve

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Hello Clare, and welcome to the site :D

We have recently written our nursery development plan for this year, including a section on improving our outdoor provision; it's a huge topic, isn't it? I'm always getting carried away when I see great looking climbing equipment in catalogues, and my shopping list is getting longer and longer......

I keep telling myself that we can make considerable improvements with little cost, too, so we're concentrating on that at the moment!

We have a separate section for outdoor play on our planning sheets, but I don't think it's big enough, and we may well start a new outdoor play sheet to include the six areas, possibly not a weekly sheet, but fortnightly or even monthly. We'll try different ways of doing it.

We have recently made part of our outdoor area freely available to the children; i.e. the door is open for them to go out and come in as they please. It's actually far easier to manage than I had previously thought, and I wish we'd tried it sooner! :o

I hope you find the site really useful, and look forward to getting to know you.

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Hello Clare, and welcome to the site :D

We have recently written our nursery development plan for this year, including a section on improving our outdoor provision; it's a huge topic, isn't it? I'm always getting carried away when I see great looking climbing equipment in catalogues, and my shopping list is getting longer and longer......

I keep telling myself that we can make considerable improvements with little cost, too, so we're concentrating on that at the moment!

We have a separate section for outdoor play on our planning sheets, but I don't think it's big enough, and we may well start a new outdoor play sheet to include the six areas, possibly not a weekly sheet, but fortnightly or even monthly. We'll try different ways of doing it.

We have recently made part of our outdoor area freely available to the children; i.e. the door is open for them to go out and come in as they please. It's actually far easier to manage than I had previously thought, and I wish we'd tried it sooner! :o

I hope you find the site really useful, and look forward to getting to know you.

Helen do you have a member of staff out there all the time?

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Hi all

 

My name is Carol and I am a nursery leader. We have recently updated our outdoor area, it cost us nearly £6000.00. Part of the outdoor area is covered with decking and has a see through roof over it. We usually have paint, playdough, small world play, dressing up, chalking, basket balls, drawing and puzzles set out in this area. We also have mobiles hanging up and the children find theese facinating. we use this area during all weathers.

 

The other part is totally uncovered and we have the water, sand, playhouse, dolls & pushchairs, bikes, scooters and big building blocks, this area is used as long as it is dry.

 

We always plan our outdoor activities in as much detail as we do our indoor activities. Our children are hardly ever inside our nursery now. :)

 

Carol

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Hi Carol -

Welcome to the forum - it's nice to meet you!

 

That sounds like some update! How big is your nursery? We have ambitions to have the same kind of affair with a covered outdoor area as well as an open one.

 

Do you have a digital camera at your nursery. I'd love to see some pictures of the setup you've got!

 

Regards, Steve.

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Guest Jan

Carol, your set up is my dream. Keep trying to revamp our outdoor play area, we are really lucky that we have our own.

 

Back to to Helen - I keep telling my staff that the ideal is to give children 'free' access to the outdoor area so they can choose whether or not to be inside or out. But how have you managed it. How do you maintain child/staff ratios and how do you keep tabs on which children are inside and outside (thoughts of 'missing child' nightmare!!)

 

I read somewhere that "There is no such thing as inappropriae weather only inappropriate clothing" - this goes for staff as well as children!

 

If we believe in creating a child-friendly environment then most children would rather be playing outside.

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Hi -

Helen's been unable to reply for a day or so, so I can give you an interim response for her:

 

Oldtimer: Yes, of course we have a member of staff out there all the time. :)

 

In fact what invariably happens is that when we have the outside play system in place (we can't do it all the time for a number of reasons), MOST of the children choose to be outside with only one or two inside. This must tell us something about how important the outside is to children and how we should be increasing access!

 

Jan - So most of the carers are outside, with one inside to be with the couple of children who choose to stay in. We're fortunate as well, in that the room inside is comprised of large windows all the way round, so we have great visibility between the staff and children at all times.

 

But the missing child nightmare doesn't go away for me at least. I'm never part of the staff child ratio, so whenever I'm there I'm supernumerary. But I'm famous for doing non-stop counting, nervously making sure we haven't lost one, though the only way it could practically happen is for a spaceship to beam one up. :o

 

Regards, Steve.

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Hi steve,

This months Practical Pre-school has a six page article about the outside area. It looks quiet good and might actually get the time to read it during my coffee break whilst I am packing to move.

Janie :o

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Hi Jan,

I spent a long time firmly believing that constant access to outside would be a nightmare, but over a period of time we started to really think how it might work.

Firstly, we can't have the outside available all of the time, mainly because the children don't all arrive at 8.30, and we therefore can't lock our gates at the end of the driveway (which we obviously have to do before we let the children out!). So, we have to wait until they're all here, which may not be until 9.30. Then, we lock the gates, both at the entrance, and also into the other area of garden which is out of main view. We use this part of the garden altogether at another time during the session (weather permitting). I say "weather permitting", not because I don't like getting cold or wet, but because we did use the grassed area throughout the winter, and now we have had to re-seed large areas because we completely trashed the lawn!!

The children are told that if they would like to go outside, they need to find their shoes and coats, etc. The first couple of days produced a great rush, but because they now know the outside will be available for a long period of time, they are much calmer about getting ready to go out. Many choose to finish their activity first, then go out. We always have a member of staff out, one in, and one floating between the two. It's an absolute dream and I wish I'd done it years ago! There is a general move towards indoors after 3/4 hour or so, when we then all come in, and get ready for snack time. (In the warm months, we have snack outside on the grassed area).

I'd recommend you getting together with your staff, and really try to find a way to have a go. Once you've secured the perimeter, you can build on what activities you can offer the children outside. We have found that they have been imaginative and inventive with, initially, not many resources. Hope this gives you inspiration! :D

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Guest Jan

Hi Helen

 

Thanks for your reply. I've seen the Practical Pre-school article (but not yet read in depth) and collected others - went to the Hampton Court Flower Show last year and as a display they had the most wonderful Nursery Garden. It's much easier in the summer as we can leave the door open and spend the time in our grassed area and also have snacks outdoors. Not so easy in the winter when the grass is wet and muddy - although we do have a stock of wellington boots, and we need to keep the doors closed. We also have a smaller hard surface area with a gate to separate it from the grassed area, so we do have all year provision. It's harder in the winter months when we need to keep the doors closed to preserve heat; and it's maintaining the adult/child ratio both indoors and out to satisfy legal requirements.

 

In our first week back after Christmas we had that brief flurry of snow and it was great to go outside and make snowmen, throw snowballs and I brought in my children's old sledge and pulled the children round the garden. Learning objectives, who knows - nobody took notes; Fun/Play value - 100%.

 

I know that we are in a very enviable position as a pre-school to have our own outdoor area, but am conscious of the fact that we do not take full advantage of it. So keep up the messages to this forum to give me inspiration to use it.

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Hi,

Our nursery supervisor went to the Hampton Court Nursery garden and took photos of it; it looked gorgeous! Particularly the frying pans and saucepans brightly painted with enamel paint and strung up so that the children could hit them! That's definitely something we'll be doing next term.

We've just planted a herb garden, and I've ordered some brightly coloured "spinny things" (!) to hang in the trees. We've already strung up unwanted CDs in the trees; they look lovely when they catch the light.

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Hi Steve

 

Our nursery is big enough for 16 children a session, our long term aim is to have a new building for up to 32 children, an architect is in the process of drawing up the plans. :) Even though we have spent alot of money there isnt alot to see but I will send some photos of it in action when I get chance (and as long as I get parents permission if their child is in the photo)

 

Carol

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Thanks Carol - don't worry too much, I just thought it would be interesting to see what you had if you had access to a digital camera.

 

I know how easy it is to give building contractors large amounts of money and not be able to see much afterwards. I think there should be a mathematical law to describe this phenomenon! :o

 

Regards, Steve.

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Hi Clare,

Have you come across the Learning Through Landscapes bunch? They have a website (I'm sure I can get hold of the URL) and they run courses all over the country. You can join (it's a charity) and they have various publications and leaflets to help develop outdoor provision.

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:o

Hi Helen,

Learning through landscapes have some fantastic ideas for the outside area. I went on a 2 day conference where they were the host and had an absolutely fantastic time and became a child for 2 days playing with the equipment and trying everything out. I would highly recomend learning through landscapes I had so much fun and wish I was 3 or 4 again!!!!!!!

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