Jump to content
Home
Forum
Join Us
Articles
About Us
Tapestry

New Outdoor Area -advice Needed Please


Recommended Posts

Our head has generously got our governors to spend a large sum of money on developing a specifc outdoor area for our two Reception classes. xD He is hoping to turn a gravel area outside a classroom into an open outdoor access area for outdoor learning. We were just wondering about what flooring would be best - he had a quote for soft play ( I think that is what its called) - cost about £27000 :o but apparently you can't paint on this - I must admit I thought he would just have tarmac put down with an additional grassy area. Quotes are still being got and just wondered what other people had done - don't want to make the wrong decision with all that money being spent. He also wants to be put in large numbers/ words on fences etc but wondered what else would be needed - such as storage area,a covered area - I know he's very enthusastic about making it look great but I want the children to be able to get the most out of it in learning terms and us to make sure the money is well spent and not just looking fab. All ideas and advice welcomed

Link to comment
Share on other sites

We have an area of soft play surface, but basically because that was all we were allowed. As I look more into what I would like to do on the area, I wish we could have had a flatter area with a more natural area, earth, stones, bushes, etc behind. This would allow us to have bikes and trikes out, tables on the flatter space and an area for exploring which I think would go down really well with the children. Perhaps not the parents perhaps! If you look up outdoor play on the internet there are a growing number of sites showing what they do which might give you inspiration if you really have free choice. The Scottish Early years site has some good examples but unfortunately I can't find the exact address at moment.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi

 

We have just (and are still doing) our ourdoor area! We wanted a covered area but the quotes were sssoooooo high. Eventually we got a 'smoking shelter' at a third of the price!!! It looks fab and nothing like a smoking shelter!! We also had quotes for the soft stuff but it was way out of our price range!! We have mainly tarmac but our small gated area with planters etc in is now going to have astro turf put in!! Its actually being laid tomorrow!!!! We are in a slightly different position to you, being a sessional pre-school but we got a grant from Hampshire Gardeners Trust for £800 for all the plants, hedges tress etc and then we got Britsh gas involved!! They not only raise money for your project but also send a team of men (about 25 of them) to come and form a working party to do whatever needs doing!! For example they errected the gazebo (smoking shelter), painted fences, dug out the area ready for the astro turf, etc etc etc!

 

Sorry I dont think I have been much help though!!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Storage is a must. I have a huge shed but it's still not big enough- looking at putting in shelves etc to make it easier to get things out.

Some kind of shelter is a most too- sun and rain. This is big with 'O' and is were we fell down 3 years ago. It is taking a while to get it sorted out though!

I have soft surface in my area. It's good put I really wish there was something a bit more natural- grass, trees etc but that wasn't a option due to our circumstances. Leave somewhere for the children to dig in- the children love it!

Resource wise- there are loads of things that you can get for free by asking parents/local community etc rather than spending loads of money. My children love an old piece of guttering donated by our caretaker and some bakers trays that a parent brought in! Somewhere I have a list of suggested resources from a course. If it'll be useful I'll hunt it out.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Shade, thats a good one. We have a large amount of shade in the early morning, until about 10am and then it is all just hot concrete!! What I wouldn't do for a bit of grass, and a tree to offer shade. But then I am easily pleased.

 

We are hoping to get a canopy this year for the outside area but they are vvvvv expensive for the size we need. The pop up gazebo we bought a few years ago tends to blow away because you can't peg it to tarmac.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

:o I agree with what's been said.


Grass and trees are great - much better than artificial surfaces.


Digging - yes! Growing areas as an allotment so children can eat what they grow.


Windchimes and mobiles.


A mound - very cheap - just a pile of earth covered with grass - great for rolling down, running round etc


Shade is a must - you can get sails pretty reasonably that are designed for shade - attached to poles. Much cheaper than some other options


Storage is essential - would be good to have it set out so the children can freely access the resources


A roadway marked on tarmac works a treat in containing the ride on toys. Put double yellow lines in areas where they shouldn't park. mark on zebra crossing - teaching road safety - with Stop painted in front of it (word recognition!)


Fixed climbing equipment looks good but has limited imaginative value unless you get something that can become whatever the children imagine. A colleague chose to buy the hollow blocks from Community Playthings instead and these have ramps. They can become anything the children choose and she said they have been a fantastic investment. (They are around £800-£900.

Google Royal Horticultural Society and sign up for their Schools garden project - they have loads of resources about planning your school garden.

Hope some of this is useful. I am busy developing an outdoor area at the Children's Centre where I work so I shall be reading the posts with great interest!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I inherited a planned out play area that looked pretty and managed to change it a little before it was done, but didn't foresee the problems I would have with the decking- It's lethal in wet weather, I have to cordon it off.I made sure we had a slope and a flat area. Since then we have developed it. The most succesful part has been to develop a part of the garden into a sensory area, with 10 stepping stones running through, a pile of logs at one end to create a mini beast area, Pebbles of different sizes, a bubble pool at one end, and herbs,plants of different sizes Storage and walls to chalk on are a must and I would consider fencing . Somewhere to place a washing line child height and adult height, could you put long rolls of paper against the fence or weave through it? I would also look at an outdoor chalk board and sand pit.

We have a compost bin, a small garden area, and I am in the process of getting a large tyre to contain a digging area.

I think back to my childhood. My grandad had a magical garden where I explored nature and made dens and could lose myself, and this really has inspired me. Some of the high cost stuff is sterile, and I don't think it's necessary.

I do have a Little tykes climbing frame that has a den under it, and slide and it has actually been very good. The children love to sit under it as its cosy,and turn it into planes cars, castles ships e.t.c.

The community playthings blocks are also a must as they are so versatile.

Why don't you ask the children though. They can really surprise you with ideas.

I also would think in terms of the areas of learning and areas within your space for certain items and movement of children.

I totally agree with bethie, about many resources being free. Your local scrap store may have useful items too.

Hope this helps.

I'm posting this late as I ended up dropping to sleep earlier and know I won't manage to get to sleep now for ages.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

So nobody would recommend paving slabs and shingle then? :o

 

 

I'll vote for the shingle.

 

I went on an outdoor course last year and was surprised to see the climbing boulder surrounded by gravel. The explanation was that it absorbs impact of anyone falling but doesn't lull anyone into a false sense of security into thinking that it won't hurt falling onto it. In my area "safety" surfaces are being removed because children are so used to not getting hurt when they fall they have lost the sense of risk/danger.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Good to see a positive side, Marion!

 

The problem with our outdoor area is that it wasn't planned with children in mind and the shingle/gravel wasn't laid to any great depth. So now it resembles bare mud with the odd stone in just to make the skinned knees smart just that little bit more...

 

I know exactly what you mean about the safety surfaces though - good idea in theory but so expensive and not really fit for purpose.

 

Just goes to show we're never satisfied!

 

Maz

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'll vote for the shingle.

 

I went on an outdoor course last year and was surprised to see the climbing boulder surrounded by gravel. The explanation was that it absorbs impact of anyone falling but doesn't lull anyone into a false sense of security into thinking that it won't hurt falling onto it. In my area "safety" surfaces are being removed because children are so used to not getting hurt when they fall they have lost the sense of risk/danger.

 

I have to agree, Marion. When I worked in Rochdale, for a while it was county policy to have no mats under climbing frames etc indoors for the same reason - mats encouraged the children to jump whereas they were more aware of the danger when there were no mats there. Not sure if that's still the case as I work for a different authority now.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks for that link Marion. Had seen it before on an outdoors learning course and wanted to show my TA's some of the pictures- but couldn't remember the website address. First thing tomorrow I'll show it too them! Thanks. xx

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest heleng

I moved into a Reception class with an outside space that had a safety surface recently put down. It has a roadway and a large target painted on it and the children love using that BUT if I could have it taken up I would because we are really restricted as to what we can do on it. The children are not allowed to get sand on it, we are not allowed to use paint on it or anything that might block it as it is designed to let water soak through it and if the tiny holes in it get blocked, it becomes slippery.

Due to the amount it cost though having it taken up is not an option.

 

Storage definitely, somewhere to dig, somewhere for sand, same as what everyone else has said really!!

 

We have what used to be an old flower bed that is raised about 15 cms off the ground and has a slight slope up to a fence about 2 metres away. It has bushes and wood bark and the children love exploring in there.

 

Hope you get sorted,

 

Helen

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Our school had a timber climbing frame put in with a safety surface underneath, and the surface started to lift!! It is now the biggest hazard in the play area. Luckily you only trip on it on the way onto the safety surface so you get quite a soft landing!!!!!!! :o

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thank you so much for all your replies - I have a meeting with the head on friday to discuss what 's going to happen - the budget seems to have gone to £35,000 which is quite amazing ( not sure where all the money's come from :o ) so we really need to get it right!!!! It seems we will have an astro laid surface but with quite a large grassy area which has the potential for sand , digging, planters etc. The head wants to put in a gazebo style area large enough for a class to go under and a stage .I like the idea of sails to provide shade too! I'm hoping to convince him to keep the large rocks he is moving and that these can be moved to this area so that the area has a natural side to it as well. The site you recomended Marion was really useful too so hope to show him this ! I can't wait to see it in place and have slowly started collecting things we think we would need - tyres, guttering wood logs - and am busy following up the ideas for collecting free things . Now does anyone have a good idea for storing 60 pairs of wellies? !

Thanks once again everyone

Link to comment
Share on other sites

our storage is a timber play house its brilliant for storing all the stuff i need to get out each day and then leaves a lovely play house for whatever theme i need and looks lovely too

 

i have the soft play and wish it was only on some of the ground but i must admit we have used it all weathers whereas grass etc might have been too boggy to go on etc so it does have a few points

 

the road is amazing one thing i did was i had parking done and a layby the layby is actuall the swop area children queue up so thy can swop and have a go on bikes too census is 2 laps then swop works brilliantly

 

go to ikea and buys bits and bobs we have plastic mirror atached to walls knobbly feely circles in bright colours to add colour

we hang netting tubes filled with bean bags balls in all weathers from hanging basket brackets

 

l'd like more storage if i can i would like to buy big metal dustbins and spray these different colours and dot these around area

 

setter play they have website offer free planning which is excellent as it reminds u how far high to go with climbing frame and how far to other equipment it sould be

 

wooden benches balancing beams and wooden log type stepping stones are cheap the log stepping is from 20 pound but not fitted thats extra

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi, Lucky you, having that kind of budget.

 

I've just sorted my outdoor area and here are some thoughts - i've got tarmac on some (trikes, sand, water, picnic tables, prams, games etc) grass on some (for whatever), bark on some (balance beam, stepping stones) and a patch that will be turned into a veggie patch.

 

The markings were supposed to be done ages ago but were delayed. I'm so glad because i've changed my mind so many times. Try to use the area if possible, as much as you can before you put permanent things in like Belfast sinks and planters etc. Most of my area is covered with a large canopy which is good.

 

I got a little picnic table from YPO for about £60. it's good (seats six little bums!) I've got a large metal shed to store all of my equipment in but beware of mice (found some nesting in the pram)

 

i got loads of stuff from poundland to decorate the planters (mobiles, windmills etc) the children love them. they brighten up the natural appearance (or maybe tacky-up!)

 

anyway good luck. hope it works out well for you. At least the weather seems to be picking up!

 

Moo

x

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks Moo for those extra ideas. So far this seems the plan - a large area covered with softplay which will have a track on and parking bays and include a number snake to 20 and some shapes probably imprinted in the flooring. Added to this will be a large area gazebo style area to fit a class under and a stage area for performing on with benches to watch. The head wants large chair for story telling and speaking and istening - stories with mini toadstools to sit on! ( though I reckon we could save some money and make our own area - though may go for some toadstools or logs! Then I've told him we need a grass area so this will incorporate a sand and water pit -and I'm hoping to add some large rocks we have and a mound and a surrounding grass area. In a fenced off area there is a pond and a wild grassy area to develop. There is also a garage within the ground for storage and the possiblility of another shed or a mobile classroom to store stuff in. Planters are planned in but I think they are in the wrong place for now - I can see soil etc all over the soft play ! so maybe move these to another area and replace with child access storage area. The head wants to add at some time a large musical chime bar - I did say pots and pans would surfice for now. so this will be the main layout - To this we'll add things like writing areas , a range of open ended resources etc but for a basic layout do you think we've missed anything ? !

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Sounds like you've got it covered! i've got pretty much the same thing. can't think of anything else although i'm sure there's more! let me know how you go! Good luck (and nice weather!)

 

Moo

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Sounds like you've got it covered! i've got pretty much the same thing. can't think of anything else although i'm sure there's more! let me know how you go!

Oh, should have mentioned that I put boxes out in the morning - a writing box (mark making stuff and paper,clipboards etc), creative box (puppets, streamers, pom poms, instruments, cd player etc) active box (balls, skipping ropes, stilts, hula hoops), role play box (outfits/accessories) and an exploration and investigation box (bug catchers, biboculars etc). i change the contents of these as and when. I also try to put out some of the remaining areas of continuous provision (small world, construction etc)

Hope this helps! Good luck !

Moo

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi there,

 

I've currently huge bags under my eyes all from the stress of our move, but we are underway and have ordered all of the works! I just thought I'd pop a piccy of our gazebo and chair that we've had done by a Kent company Plane and Simple - they were fantastic! I explained to three companies about having a gazebo, two came back with things that looked like a bus shelter and then there was this plan - the point is stick with your ideas and allow them to transform positively - if the builders and designers can't help you realise your vision..try someone else-and keep an eye open for simple ideas such as using old planks of wood to shore up a vegetable plot or using a washing line and a pulley for the children to load up a small bucket or tray and lift!

 

Best of luck - hopefully we'll get ours all set up and sorted by June..seems to have gone on forever though!

post-8286-1208990588_thumb.jpg

post-8286-1208990611_thumb.jpg

post-8286-1208990759_thumb.jpg

post-8286-1208990796_thumb.jpg

Edited by Guest
Link to comment
Share on other sites

My setting isn't able to make permanent changes to our outdoor area so we have to be very creative and flexible, but something I have seen and experienced whilst doing supply was a sand shed. This was a normal garden shed that had a dampproof floor put down and then, the rear third was turned into a sandpit. The sand was retained behind a plank of about 10 inches in height. Then the front third, just in front of the door had a kind of astro turf where the children could take off their shoes and put on some wellies stored there. You could have coat pegs etc. This was an amazing resource as it could be used all year round. In fact the day I was there Ofsted were in and I was assigned a real little darling (not) who thoroughly enjoyed the sand shed well away from the inspectors, lol!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue. (Privacy Policy)