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Hi,

Although I am a great believer in outdoor play and am usually the first out there in almost all weathers and can clearly identify the benefits from using the outdoor provision, I STILL feel like I'm struggling with the provision and resourcing side of it :o

I find it quite difficult to decide on what to have out permanently/just for a week/fornight/half-term and often find that with both reception and Nursery using the resources they either get quickly used up (e.g. play-ground chalk), broken or in a mess. We do have designated areas for resources but do allow children to take resources to where they want to play (in most cases!) as we feel part of using the outdoor area is having more space to spread out and choose and be creative in the use of resources. The children are good at tidying up but things do tend to always look a bit more 'used' and not always neatly contained like indoors. Although, I have to admit that my son's school is the same and it doesn't make me think that there not doing a good job!

I have many books, articles, downloads etc about resourcing and using the outdoors and have lots of ideas but often you introduce them, set them up etc then 2 days later, half the resources are broken or completely missing. We find this particularly with the play-house - we help the children set it up using their ideas - we've had space-rockets, post-offices, supermarkets, bear caves, Grandma's cottage etc but whatever we resource it with and however firmly we tell the children that they must look after it, it can all be pulled down within a day. Does anyone else find this? The children change so often what they want to use it for, is it worth spending an afternoon setting it all up beautifully as a castle when tomorrow they want to use it as 'The Bat Cave!'? De-constructed role-play may be the way to go?

Would love to know what other people do in terms of their outdoor play? How much is permanent? What do you change most regularly? What do you do with your play-houses? Also - do the children use your area during lunchtime (as I feel this is the time when many of the resources get mis-used?)

My main problem, I think, is that I only work half days as we only have a morning Nursery, so I'm not there last thing to re-organise resources, have everything ready for the next day as it all needs to be left out for reception and wrap-around care in the afternoon. As I said above, I love being outdoors and think it is VITAL for the children, so why do I find it such a struggle sometimes? Should I just accept that things outdoors will not be as tidy and neatly laid out as inside? It's ok for things to be 'ready' in boxes for children to choose?

Hope someone can help!! Sorry for the long post - just feeling a bit down in the dumps. (Post-Nativity blues, maybe?? xD )

Thanks, Green Hippo x

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We are in the process of negotiating an outdoor space so I've been looking at how best to resource it.

I feel we should turn it over to natural play only, so I want to have pathways, shrubs, a planting area, a sand pit, boggy area, log pile and benches, wide spaces to run around or lie on the grass and listen to the wind.

Of course you might not have the space for any of that, but I do personaly think moving the indoor resources to the outside kind of defeats the object of having an outdoor area.

I wouldnt expect the area to be kept tidy by all the children but I would expect the people who used it last to leave it ready for the next group. We'll be sharing our space with Rainbows, Brownies, Parent and toddler and the church goers and I hope they will respect anything we do there.

And if its any consolation the outdoor area at our local primary is a mess of broken chalk, spilt boxes, random toys and bits of dressing up. It certainly is never tidy. :o

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Thanks Rea - that makes me feel better!

We try to work along the same lines as you are intending to - use the outdoors for it's unique qualities - a place to do things bigger, louder, use natural resources, growing, den making, wind/rain resources etc, we do also have 'indoor' resources to use outdoors but put them in different contexts. We have a lovely outdoor area, half grass, half tarmac and it is large (3 times the size of my son's school's). I think that is what worries me - are we using it in the best way possible? Are we offering enough experiences/learning opportunities?

How do you intend to resource your outdoor area - mostly permanent resources? What about sport equipment - offer a few at a time or access to all at once? Am I over thinking it?? Hmmmm...

Green Hippo xx

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Because we'll be sharing it with other church hall users we wont keep toys out but we'll take sport stuff there I'm sure.

What I have in mind is purely an outdoor area so the children can play like we did, sticks and mud pies and rose petal perfume and little areas where the faries might live with moss and logs with holes in. Blankets on the grass with orange squash and biscuits while someone reads a story.

I'm hoping we can afford at least one of the community playthings sand pits I saw at a nursery once. The lid was like decking and just slid across the pit when it wasnt in use. I know cats will possibly be a problem but we'll have to be careful and watchful and wash hands well. I havent thought any more than that really :o

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A good way of supporting imaginative/symbolic role play outside is to provide resources so that the children can adapt and create with them as they wish. So perhaps having access to different labelled containers with, for example: planks of wood, sheets and blankets, thick wool/rope/clips for fastening, pots/pans/bowls spoons, boxes/cardboard, large old sweet/biscuit tins etc, variety of paper/notepads/old diaries/pencils/markers/clip boards, etc, etc. Some form of structure such as 'A' frames or old style clothes horses are good, and/or Community Playthings blocks are great outside.

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I completely understand - we were having similar problems, with resources being mis-used outside on the playground, especially at lunchtime. We made the decision to take the children on to the field each lunchtime no matter the weather (unless it is pouring!). They all have boots/waterproofs. We are lucky to have an area with trees and bushes and have developed this by adding logs (in circles for sitting on or jumping around), tyres, planks (for balancing along), wheelbarrows, buckets, spades, forks, old spoons, sieves (for digging/mudpies/making 'mixtures). We have collected lots of large sticks/branches for shelter making. There is also lots of space for running around. It is a natural environment and children are free to play as they choose.

What a difference we have noticed! Children are completely absorbed in their play at lunchtime and there are few behaviour issues now. Also they accept that their play on the playground is different. They see the playground as an extension of the classroom now and use the activities and resources appropriately.

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Hi,

Thank you for all your suggestions. We do offer many of the things that have been suggested but I do like the idea of having resource boxes clearly labelled with different open-ended resources which can easily and quickly be taken in at the end of the day and are not to difficult to tidy-up. I think that is the key - don't over-organise the resources and they need to be easy to tidy-up. I think I get stressed about having specific things in boxes and get fed up because it's all got mixed up. I suppose, as long as the children know where to find the resources and where to put them back it's ok. We have got the help of a local garden centre to sort out our grassed area a bit as we need to do one big push to set it up properly. We are hoping to create a sensory area using plants, a wild-area, a digging area, a growing area and we are going to invest in a proper robust sandpit and a willow arch (with the help of the PTA). We never seem to get anywhere when we try to do little bits by ourselves - I think we need to make it into a project for children, families etc. We do have the above areas already but they need making into 'proper' defined areas not just patches of ground, if that makes any sense?

I'm not sure what the solution is for dinner-times. I think I may need to spend a few minutes putting some of the resources back inside to ensure that they are not ruined.

I'm still unsure about how much to offer in term of sports equipment? Also, we tend to offer some small-world and some construction and change what we offer in-line with interests etc is this right?

Thanks, Green Hippo x

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