Friday, 15 August 2014

Outdoor Play Party - Guest Post 4 - A Visit to Norway.

This time round my guest post is from Andy Mitchell, one evening we starting chatting on Twitter about a shared passion for outdoor learning opportunties in schools. I have enjoyed watching Andy on his journey this past year to become a teacher, when I saw he had been fortunate enough to visit a kindergarten in Norway I asked him to contribute a guest post for the blog. He very kindly agreed & here is a little background to his visit to Norway to spend a week at Birkebeiner Outdoor Nursery.
"I’m a mature student who only returned to education in 2010 with the intention of training to become a teacher. I won’t bore you with the details but I graduated from Edge Hill University with a First Class Degree in ‘Children & Young People’s Learning and Development’. You need a degree just to recall the title!! Anyhow, throughout my studies, I had become increasingly interested in the use of the outdoors in young children’s learning and development. I realised that there seemed to be a great deal of literature espousing the benefits of outdoor teaching and learning. However, what I was seeing in practice, was very little use of the outdoors to promote children’s learning and development. On the very first day of my Early Years PGCE, one of our tutors explained that we had to arrange 10 days of voluntary placement. They explained that the 10 days should be somewhere different. Not a mainstream primary school. Perhaps a special needs school, children’s centre, library or museum. I immediately thought of Norway. I had heard lots of different things about how they approach early years teaching in Scandinavia and set about arranging a trip!
The staff explained that the kindergarten building is only rented and was original built to house the press office for the 1994 Winter Olympics. My initial impression was that it looked just like an office building with viewing platforms, where the press and supporters would watch the skiing events! Once I was taken onto the site it was clear to see how it had been adapted into a pre-school/ nursery.
The outdoor area, still with some areas covered by snow and ice, but I could see seating areas, sand pits, a slide, wooden horse and lots of storage areas.
The area which is set aside for the children to sleep in their prams as and when required.
I asked about the extreme weather conditions which they can have in Norway and she assured me that the children will sleep inside if the mercury dropped anywhere below -15 degrees !
One staff member explained how the children enjoy sleeping in the fresh air and don’t feel the cold as they are kept warm and dry by the appropriate equipment and blankets. Therein lies the real secret to their philosophy as I see it……the children will be given every opportunity to enjoy the outdoors, whilst also being safe and protected by appropriate clothing and equipment but more importantly they are supported and encouraged to spend time outdoors, taking risks that are developmentally appropriate for the individual.

The children arrived up to 9.30am and casually go about their routines. I noticed that they were all very calm and behaviour management was not an issue. Everybody seemed very aware of the routine and the children are really relaxed. In the other room there were three members of staff and everybody was taking part in a circle time activity. It was very lighthearted and I suspect that everybody is sharing their ‘news’. It was noticeable that all the children were very comfortable with male staff (there were 3 men in the room). I guess I only made this initial observation because it is unusual in England.
The children spend the day at the Lavo which is essentially a wooden wigwam in a nearby forest. I was intrigued to see the children getting themselves changed into lots of winter clothing. They’re clearly used to dressing themselves in waterproof trousers, coats and boots etc. The overall atmosphere was one of calm. There was no rush or panic to be anywhere and this seems to help everybody to stay relaxed. I couldn't help but imagine a similar situation in a Reception class at home where staff would be helping children, rushing them to get changed and then asking them to ‘LINE UP’.
Once we walked into the forest it was clear that the children were right at home. It was beautiful. I lasted about five minutes before falling over !! In all I fell about 4 times. The children were free to choose their play and went off in different directions, without ever being out of sight. A member of staff generally accompanied the children to observe what they were doing / learning. They take every opportunity to point out birds/insects etc. to the children. Lots of the activities in the forest have been ‘built’ by staff and parents and they generally consist of climbing, swinging, balancing and sitting upon wooden/rope equipment. The children did fall and slip but were unfazed and they jumped up to repeat/continue with whatever they’d been doing.
I did have to fight the urge to intervene when I thought the children were faced with too great a challenge !! The truth was, they were very resilient and worked together brilliantly.
Some were sawing, axing, climbing, den building, role playing, swinging and some were casually sitting in the snow, chatting. The whole environment was very sociable and the children were all very happy.
Another day was filled with the children playing around the barnehage. Whether it was bikes, in the sand (with water) or inventing games using all sorts of things, then the children were happy to go from place to place as they so wished. Just occasionally, staff, and I, would go and play alongside certain children to see what they were doing and to help I, but only if invited or needed.
Some of the children encouraged me to try some of the equipment that they use in the snow. You didn’t need to understand Norwegian to know that they were having a good laugh at my incompetence!
I hope that the reader can see the type of approach taken in this particular kindergarten and that my thoughts and ramblings make some sense. I hadn’t approached the trip with the idea of sharing all my experiences but I fell in love with the philosophy and way of life in Lillehammer. The cost of a pint of beer may well be off the scale but they certainly know how to provide children with the opportunity to develop as young people before burdening them with concepts that are beyond their understanding. They let their children be children and allow them to develop physically, socially and emotionally in beautiful natural surroundings."
Thanks to all those who took the time to link up in the last Outdoor Play Party, my featured post from the last round up was from Still Playing School with their brilliant outdoor water feature from cooler bottles.

  • Any kind of children's outdoor play-related posts are welcome!
  • We'd appreciate it if you included a link back to this post (either in your post or sidebar) to help us spread the word about the importance (and fun!) of outdoor play! In return, we'll gladly further share your post on FacebookTwitterPinterestPlease feel free to grab the Outdoor Play Party button from the sidebar and/or include a text link back. Please note that by contributing you are giving permission for an image and link to your post to be republished if featured.(If you have been featured, please feel free to grab the 'featured' button from the sidebar.) Share your ideas for outdoor play activities with us every other week!

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Utilising the space you have.

In January 2013 children, parents & staff at my school came together to plant a woodland on a long strip of sloping green space that was rarely used within the school playground. During a 4 hour period around 500 trees were planted & 3 willow dens planted. We even ran out if space in the main grass area & it was decided to plant on a further grass verge outside the main playground gates, just above the nursery playground. Little did we know on that Saturday morning that the decision to plant in this extra space would create an incredible area for the nursery class to enjoy a real 'forest' experience on a weekly basis. We realised how great this little wild area was in that June but we were concerned by the proximity of a roadway for delivery vehicles that ran alongside it, so thankfully the school management team was easily persuaded to fence it off just for the nursery class to use. It was all finished & ready for us to use at the end of September & we were able to start visiting this space while the children were still settling-in in 2 small groups of 13/14. It was perfect for us to introduce them to in the smaller group, establishing a few ground rules e.g. they were allowed to run on ahead up the Tarmac road as long as they stopped at the red circle on the gate. In the first few visits one of the children called it Bear Woods & the name stuck, so this particular class can also claim to have named this space. Peter, our local biodiversity officer, who helped plant the areas made us a great sign for the area & we decorated the fence with coloured plastic circles, bunting, mirrors & posters from Cosy Direct. 

September 2013
August 2014

In the first term we visited monthly but in the second & third terms it became a weekly event & we even had 2 birthday parties in the space. The children really looked forward to visiting this space & we noticed that they were very calm in their play & spent time just sitting chatting in the long grass. They played in a very different way in Bear Woods too, games developed that they never ever took back to the playground; a favourite one was pretending to be stuck or tied to the fence & having to be rescued by one particular child! As the year progressed we brought more resources up to stay in the space, ropes, big plastic lorries & cars, Bottle Babies, silver garden balls, sticks & play food. 
Bear Woods looking down onto the nursery.
We kept to a familiar routine on our Bear Woods days, the children played about in the playground while we gradually got everyone dressed into their 'rain gear' before loading up the wagon & heading up the hill to the space, we took snack up with us & had it on arrival - usually a biscuit sandwich & some fruit. Once snack was over the children were free to head off around the space to play. Most days we would still be up there when the main school had their morning breaktime & older siblings enjoyed coming over to the adjoining fence to chat to the children. 
Long term, as the trees grow & the space develops we hope to have some semi permanent shelters dotted around the space. Having seen some of Cosy's portable willow dens in place in some of the Derby nurseries, I know these will be perfect for the space. We also have an artist coming to work with the children this year to create some outdoor art for this space.
 As the space is on a slope the children have to learn to negotiate walking on an uneven surface, walking up & down the incline. They love rolling down the hill - learning to avoid the trees & each other! They enjoy racing the cars or silver balls down the hill & using the ropes to climb up the slope. 
There is a brilliant post by Timbernook about why children fidget & it illustrates perfectly the value of having such a space for regular use - you can read that article here:

So my advice is to have a look around your space & see if there is a strip of land you could develop as a wild or wooded area to allow for some different outdoor play experiences on site.

The green space in the main school before & after.

Friday, 1 August 2014

Outdoor Play Party - Guest Post 3 - Highway Farm.

For this Outdoor Play Party I am delighted to have Martin Besford from the incredible Highway Farm Activity Centre guest posting. They have an outdoor preschool called 'Little Explorers' & the most amazing site to facilitate outdoor learning. In this post Martin explains how the idea of doing an annual trek with the preschoolers came to be.
The Carn Brea Hike
Our Ethos throughout the centre is based on outdoor learning, play, nature and of course FUN. Children can engage in and with the natural environment everyday, all day regardless of the weather. The children throughout the centre are challenged on a daily basis across all areas of learning and development. The over 8's can also learn and progress skills in mountain biking, archery, sand boarding to mention a few. All children regardless of their age grow fruit and veg, light camp fires, cook on camp fires, whittle, knife and tool work, den build and lots more exciting things. There is a huge emphasis on managing their own risks and using real tools and equipment to learn important life skills.
Inspiration is a huge leverage tool to motivate and make changes, often to better ourselves, our practice or indeed the wider circle within which we operate. My inspiration for this now "tradition" activity for the pre-school children at Highway Farm came from a you tube video of a setting in Norway. Our older children are further challenged through the outdoor pursuits and we wanted to explore ways to extend the pre-school children. 

As I watched the video, I felt an instant tingling of excitement and my brain rev into 5th gear. I was in awe of this group of children, 5 years old hiking up a mountain which was actually a weekly activity for them. That was it...... for me it was a must! 
The children at our pre-school are outside between 80-100% of the day in all weathers. Our environment is set up in a natural way that enables children to reach high levels of physical development very quickly. This was the challenge that we had been looking for! 
We a have just completed our 3rd annual Hike of the Hill. It takes the children who are 3 and 4 years old, over a 3.5 mile hike of varied terrain, including steep rocky incline, clambering over high rocks, styles, old granite steps and through scrub, heather and bracken that towers over their heads. 
There are various stops along the way for snacks, enjoying the far reaching views of coastline and countryside, a chance to spot local landmarks, homes and tin mines. We also chat about the huge cultural heritage that the Hike holds and part of the walk is that which miners would have taken on a daily basis to and from the mines, some of which not much older than those on the walk.

Last year we decided to make the hike a sponsored one to raise money for the pre-school and this year the children's families were also invited on the Hike. About 3 quarters of the way through we explore small tunnels and stop for a break on the door step of the castle.
We then hold a medal ceremony for them. Each child receives a medal for their efforts. 
Each year I love the drive and passion that the children always dig up to complete the hike. As adults, especially these days, we never seem to give children enough credit for what they are actually capable of. This Hike really emphasises their capabilities and determination to challenge themselves and the satisfaction and pride that they have completed such a memorable, physical achievement. 
Each year I am filled with emotion and job satisfaction that these children, families and staff can share such a magical experience together. One which will hopefully be remembered for life.

The trek is the only fundraiser that we do at our pre-school. Last year we raised money for our new sand pit, which was not only paid for by the sponsor money, but was also built by the parents, children and staff. This year we raised £390 (which is good for a small setting). We have ordered a set of large hollow blocks from Cosy Direct which is something that the children and staff have been wanting for a while.
Thanks again to all those who linked up in the last Outdoor Play Party, your support is really appreciated. My featured post from the last round up is from An Idea on Tuesday. In this fab post Niccola has lots of great ideas for bring maths outdoors & I just love the balance scales set her father-in-law has made.
  • Any kind of children's outdoor play-related posts are welcome!
  • We'd appreciate it if you included a link back to this post (either in your post or sidebar) to help us spread the word about the importance (and fun!) of outdoor play! In return, we'll gladly further share your post on FacebookTwitterPinterestPlease feel free to grab the Outdoor Play Party button from the sidebar and/or include a text link back. Please note that by contributing you are giving permission for an image and link to your post to be republished if featured.(If you have been featured, please feel free to grab the 'featured' button from the sidebar.) Share your ideas for outdoor play activities with us every other week!

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Derby Road Trip - day 2 - Lord Street N.S

As part of a 3 day visit to Derby we were also lucky enough to visit the incredible Lord Street Nursery School & meet up with Christine the Head Teacher. This nursery is in the city & caters for up to 150 preschool children.

Lord Street is a well established nursery school - being over 70 years old & originally set up to provide preschool education for the children of women who were employed by some of the many engineering factories during the war.
I always love visiting older settings as they have always gathered up years of resources & the outdoor space at Lord Street was incredible too. They have ancient trees surrounding the play areas & in the middle of them - providing a lovely cool shady area for the children to enjoy playing in. As Christine explained, these can have a downside too, as everything has to be covered up at night so that in the morning the bird poo splattered covers can be removed before play begins!

I loved that the playground had mature enough trees for there to be swings & ropes attached. We visited on a hot, sunny day & yet it was lovely & cool under the trees. The nursery has 2 distinct classes for the younger 2 year olds & then the preschool aged 3-5 year olds. Each age group has its own play area & classroom meaning that resources are able to be aimed for a particular age group. Lord Street piloted the idea of having 2 year olds in a nursery setting & listening to Christine speak so passionately about this, would hearten anyone to go down this path.

We arrived at the end of a morning session, so we got to see the children playing outdoors in the play area & then how they transitioned to home time - seamlessly. It was great to see children & adults helping to tidy all the resources away before moving indoors for a short story/singing time before they were collected to go home, or some moved on to the lunch room for dinner.

This nursery school has a big covered verandah area round one side, used for storage of all the wet weather gear & wellies, I loved the way all the old plastic & metal chairs had been lined up to provide adequate seating for those getting changed before heading back inside. It was also very obvious that the wet weather gear is well used & there was also enough coats etc. for all the adults to get involved in outdoor play no matter the weather. In the play area the Community Playthings Hollow Blocks were set up as a pirate ship, flag & all & I loved seeing how the patina of these blocks was so dark after years of play.

One area of the playground has been fenced off to create a forest school area with a pond & tree stumps to form a seated area around a fire circle. As Christine pointed out, this area is a big enough 'trip' for the 2 year olds to feel they are getting the whole forest school experience without having to leave the school grounds - it also cuts down on transport costs. Most of the staff have some level of Forest School training & this ensures the ethos is fully embedded into the school. If I took one thing away from my trip to Derby, it is that schools need to develop areas on site to offer a forest school or wild experience instead of always looking off site for it.

Inside the beautiful Garden Room.
There was an amazing community spirit in Lord Street, the parents were comfortable enough to wait about outside chatting to each other with younger siblings while they waited for the session to end & there is an amazing parent room on the school grounds that recently opened. The Garden Room, is a gorgeous wooden room with glass along one whole wall, a kitchen area & toilets/changing area, where the school offers the PEEP programme for the parents of those younger children in the nursery. Most nursery settings have a unique relationship with parents compared to other school settings but I got the impression that Christine & Lord Street goes the extra mile for every family involved in their school.

If/when I get the chance to return to Derby, I would like to spend a whole morning at Lord Street to see the session unfold & spend some time indoors, as we were mostly focused on the outdoor space. The school has a strong Reggio influence, with staff having had the opprtunity to spend time in Italy.

A big thanks to Pete again for facilitating & for Christine for making us so welcome.

Saturday, 26 July 2014

Why Have A Graduation Ceremony?

There have been lots of photos in the last few weeks of nursery/preschool children & their various Graduation ceremonies floating around the internet on social media sites. I also saw the idea of wearing gaps & gowns has spread to some primaries for their leavers too. It's a weird concept for me, especially as we don't even have graduation ceremonies until leaving university here in the U.K.
However, whilst I personally don't understand the need for gowns & caps as if the children were actual graduates, I do see the worth of a graduation or leavers ceremony to mark the end of a preschool year.
teach in a nursery unit attached to a primary school, the majority of the children in my class continue onto the primary, so therefore we don't call our end of year ceremony a leavers one but rather their graduation. Nursery is still very different to primary, despite new curriculums & the children are graduating from one system to another.
It is also our only public ceremony where the children perform for an audience as we have done away with a Christmas performance. As this usually takes place at the end of first term, I felt the children were not ready to go up on a stage & perform for their parents, some were always too shy or unsure to even go on the stage. Also, first term is all about settling-in & stopping routines to rehearse is not a good idea.
For the past 10 years we have just had a graduation ceremony, it is very low key. The children perform songs & rhymes they have already learned throughout the school year, learning only one new specific song for the day. They decorate cardboard crowns to wear on the day & as we usually wear a uniform, they wear their own clothes for the ceremony.
We practise on the stage in the big school 3 times before the actual day, this is plenty in my opinion; the first day it is all a novelty & by day 3 we usually have some of the older classes come to watch to give the children the sense of an audience.
Each child gets a certificate from the Principal of the school & this gives her a chance to chat individually to each child. The certificate celebrates all that they have achieved in their year at nursery.

It has become the tradition for the nursery staff to provide food for a small celebratory family party afterwards & this gives us all a chance to give something back to the children & their parents & wider family. It is also a lovely relaxed time when we get to chat to the parents & grandparents & celebrate the achievements of the ceremony & the whole year.
For the past 3 years the children have had their graduation ceremony on their last day of school, it helps to end the school year on a high note. 
So whilst I am particularly in favour of going down the cap & gown route I do value having a graduation ceremony.

Friday, 25 July 2014

Settling in to Nursery - part 1!

Every setting is different I know but this is how children are settled into my class.
Every September 26 3-4 years olds start in my nursery class, which is part of a larger primary school. In Northern Ireland children are entitled to one year of free preschool education but it is not compulsory. For the past 3 years we have tried a different system & it has worked so well, I wouldn't do it any other way.
All 26 children start on the 1st day of school for September - sounds mad I know but believe me it works. We start them in 3 small groups of 8 or 9 for just an hour over 2 days. On the 3rd day, we have just 2 groups of 13 & they stay for 2 hours & stay in this group for 3-4 weeks & just for the 2 hours the whole month of September. So one group is in from 9.00 to 11.00 and then the second group comes in from 11.30-1.30.
During that first week, I always encourage parents/carers to take that time off, get younger siblings minded elsewhere & give the child starting nursery their full attention. They are encouraged to stay that 1st week & as I point out at open nights every year, they will never get an opportunity to observe their child's teacher in the classroom ever again. Both myself & the other staff are, at the end of the day, strangers to the children & yet so many settings encourage parents to leave children on the first day. I want the children to trust us & be comfortable with us before their parents leave. We also need to have a good sense of each child before we can figure out how they will reacte to certain scenarios e.g. Having a toy snatched from them, being asked not to throw sand or having a toileting accident.

We also stress that no parent is ever to sneak off without letting a member of staff know they are leaving, it always surprises me that every year some parents will actually open the top lock on our door & leave without saying to us. But more importantly, if a parent says they will be in the car & then leaves, if we need them & they aren't out in the car, their child will never trust our word again. Even though it is only 2 hours, some children need to build up to this & it can seem very slow for parents but it is preferable to us to have children coming and going throughout the 2 hours rather than having 13 children upset & crying all at the same time. If a reluctant child is settled at an activity we will encourage a parent to leave for 30 minutes & then come back making a huge fuss of the child for staying & then taking them home. This last bit can throw both child & parent - if they come back after 30 minutes & earlier than home time, a parent can often feel that if the child is still happy enough they could just sit & wait until home time. However, in the long term we want the child to realise that mum/dad only comes back at home time, so they have to learn to leave when they return. 

If a parent is staying after the first week, we encourage them to pick a seat in the classroom or playground & stay in it, allowing the child to venture off knowing they are still there. This is mainly because we have found that if a parent follows their child from activity to activity, we can rarely get in on that child during play & begin to form a connection.

But my biggest advice to anyone settling a child into nursery is RELAX! That is why I encourage parents to take the first week off, so they aren't stressed about having to be at work or elsewhere. Not to stereotype but dads tend to be much more relaxed about the whole process & are not concerned about what everyone else is doing. Mums tend to feel under pressure to leave if the other parents are too but in my experience a dad is more comfortable being the only parent still in the classroom with their child.
By relax, I mean don't stress, no child has ever not settled into nursery, some just take longer than others but they all get there. Don't worry sharing, taking turns, socialising etc. as far as your child is concerned; that is what they have come to nursery to learn more about. All children will at various times snatch toys, it is hard being one of 26! So relax, enjoy the opportunity to play with your child, meet their new friends & their parents. Relax & chat go the staff, settling in is a frantic time but also the most time you will get to chat with us.

Luckily, every year we forget how hard settling in time can be, so the advice to relax is for us too!

Friday, 18 July 2014

Outdoor Play Party - Guest Post 2 - E11 Creative Workshop.

For the latest fortnightly Outdoor Play Party I am delighted to have an inspirational guest post from Maria & Alain Navaratne from the incredible E11 Creative Workshop. Please take time to explore this amazing school by following them on Facebook or checking out their website Maria & Alain created this unique choice based art school for children aged 3 plus in 2009. This post is a brilliant example of having a 'can do' attitude & will be a great inspiration for those who don't have access to outdoor spaces or feel overwhelmed by a small outdoor space. Maria & Alain have created a stimulating outdoor learning area in a small space by carefully placing open ended resources & have really connected their students to the local community by using the whole area as a giant learning environment.
No Outdoor Space - No Problem!

So, what do passionate outdoor play advocates do when they have a center with no outdoor area? 
E11 Creative Workshop moved to The Manitou Art Center in Manitou Springs, Colorado in December 2013. The benefits of providing children’s art services within our local Art Center were too exciting an opportunity to turn down. We have never had a space without a yard, we are huge proponents of loose parts play and our preschool program was traditionally an indoor/outdoor approach. But the invitation to work in this space was one we could not refuse. We transformed what was formerly a storeroom in a gallery into a beautiful working art studio for children. Now, what to do about outdoor free play, one of the most important aspects of our program? 
Before & After
In the great E11 tradition of repurposing just about anything we can get our hands on, that is exactly what we did to address our need for outside time. The Manitou Art Center is opposite an ordinary city park with an extraordinary, picturesque shallow creek running through it, shaded by huge trees. This provides an idyllic setting for our 60+ summer camp children to cool off, float handmade boats, construct dams and build riverbank hideouts. Twelve children ages 4 to 11 attend each day with a couple of Middle and High School volunteers in addition to two teachers, providing plenty of supervision for riverbank fun. 
One of the trickiest aspects of using the creek and park opposite is that a busy road separates us from it. 
Even though it is only 4 minute walk from our building to the river, we have a to cross this busy road. That was when we discovered the Manitou Free Shuttle Bus which loops around our small town delivering us safely from our side of the road to the creek. We couldn’t resist a little bus trip for our little and big kids and it has proved to be very popular. With a quick clean up after lunch we can ride the 12:41pm bus just along from The Manitou Art Center, loop around the town and get off on the other side of the road just opposite! This does sound ridiculous but when we have a group of 12 excited children playing eye-spy at the bus stop, big kids holding the little kids hands, clutching buckets and handmade boats, greeting Miss.Shelley the bus driver we do have a truly fabulous time! 

Now, how to provide an indoor/outdoor experience for our little school? Well, there is a little outdoor studio area just by our entryway. It has homemade rolling fences to separate it from the carpark of the Art Center, a patch of dirt, a tree and a decorated concrete patio with a few tables and chairs. We have slowly inched our way out of the studio, first planting some donated strawberry and pepper plants in the dirt, next putting out just a few pallets, oh and a trough for water play. Gradually we inched the fence a bit further into the carpark (I just know Bev Bos would be so proud of us), we got rid of all the tools and rubbish that the studio artists had dumped behind the tree and made a fine little hobbit hideout for the children to have private play time. 
Every now and then we find donated scraps of lumber or logs for the children to build with, presumably all our artist neighbors know what we are up to now! The studio artists pop by and have become a resource to our little artists. The month of June produced a lot of wooden swords which gradually became slicker and more refined. A few of our older children began to make mortice and tenon joints, engrave the handles with wood burning tools and sand their ‘blades’ out on the patio for much of the day. That is when they met Jordan the blacksmith and tanner who could show them how he makes real (blunt) swords for the Rennaissance Festival, including leather sheaths. He kindly gave demonstrations in his studio and then gave the children leather scraps to make their own sheaths.
This professional dialogue between two generations of artists only occurred because of our inching out into the outdoor studio. We have pretty scraps of fabric as tablecloths and our little community of artists sit and watch the play going on as they eat their lunches at their own leisure - our choice based approach includes not only art.
Today we dumped four bags of sand in a small trough. Our littlest children were thrilled to be playing with clean sand as they are more used to picking up great clumps of wet mud by the riverbank and forming it into balls to plop in the river or playing in the dusty dirt (next to the park’s clean, enclosed sand pit) that has sparkles of micah in it . We dream of our old gigantic sandpit and the complex waterways, dams and bridges we used to build, but back then we were probably fantasizing about funny field trips on a free city shuttle bus to a favorite spot by the creek. 
Maria & Alain Navaratne 
E11 Creative Workshop 
Manitou Springs, Colorado, USA
My featured post from the last Outdoor Play Party was from Adventure Togs on how to get even the most reluctant or real indoor children outdoors.
  • Any kind of children's outdoor play-related posts are welcome!
  • We'd appreciate it if you included a link back to this post (either in your post or sidebar) to help us spread the word about the importance (and fun!) of outdoor play! In return, we'll gladly further share your post on FacebookTwitterPinterestPlease feel free to grab the Outdoor Play Party button from the sidebar and/or include a text link back. Please note that by contributing you are giving permission for an image and link to your post to be republished if featured.(If you have been featured, please feel free to grab the 'featured' button from the sidebar.) Share your ideas for outdoor play activities with us every other week!