1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.
  2. Hi Guest, welcome to the TES Community!

    Connect with like-minded education professionals and have your say on the issues that matter to you.

    Don't forget to look at the how to guide.

    Dismiss Notice

creative ideas for outdoors

Discussion in 'Early Years' started by dilly, Mar 2, 2008.

  1. I'm looking for some new exciting ideas for my outdoor classroom which would be easy for the children to do independently. We have to share our playground with KS1 at playtime so everything needs packing away and getting out again after play.Anyone got any suggestions of how I can do it? I have 4 sets of drawers with continuous provision for all areas which are working really well but am not doing anything on a larger scale really.
  2. I'm looking for some new exciting ideas for my outdoor classroom which would be easy for the children to do independently. We have to share our playground with KS1 at playtime so everything needs packing away and getting out again after play.Anyone got any suggestions of how I can do it? I have 4 sets of drawers with continuous provision for all areas which are working really well but am not doing anything on a larger scale really.
  3. It might ease the burden on packing away and re-setting up if you can come to some arrangement with year one over leaving the resources out over break time - I bet there are still lots of Y1 children who would relish the chance to use what you offer as (from your post) it seems that they are not getting a great deal of access to a quality outdoor learning environment at other times in the day. Obviously there'd be negotiations over care of equipment, setting up and packing away, but it might be possible to make this work more effectively for you and for them.

    As for large scale ideas, I'll get the ball rolling with one I'm particularly fond of, which is transient art, which involves providing children with lots of varied resources such as natural materials and objects, ribbons, wool, string, hoops, shiny objects etc., and then just having them create something that appeals to them. As the creations are not permanent, it makes sense to provide the use of a camera, so children can photograph their efforts. It'd probably be something you'd do as a focus before including it as part of your continuous provision.

  4. Thanks Fuzzy duck. That sounds great. I will chat to Year 1 about it too. I think they would love it and benefit. I love your idea, it sounds just what I am looking for. Cameras are on order for the children but we can still take pics using the class one.
    Any other ideas anyone?
  5. A while back I trawled through all the previous posts for outdoor play and copied and pasted all the best ideas...you'll need a cup of tea but this is the edited version, so hopefully there isn't too much repetition!


    ?the course leader said that to have an outdoor classroom all you need is 'a space roofed only by sky'. ?suggested simply coning off an area of the playground and splitting it into zones:
    messy (sand/water/gloopy stuff - using 'Granny's soap flakes' which can be coloured with green food colouring to make a (dinosaur) swamp?log pieces, stones? If you hide things in the bottom it'll really stimulate the imagination!
    physical/energy burning zone for playground games to develop all sorts of language & number skills wheeled vehicles zone for gross motor skills
    contemplation zone in a quiet area where children can just chat/draw/write and develop social skills role-play zone where chn can build up their own creations linked to your topic

    Strong cardboard packaging was recommended to create shelters, & old sheets to make tents/dens
    Tyres - free from garages as they have to pay for them to be taken away.
    planks/pieces of wood
    roadsigns, washing-line numbers and letters to order etc, building signs
    blackboard paint to use as permanent fixture
    Guttering to pour water down.
    Fruit boxes/milk bottle crates to build with
    Old pots and pans strung on a strong line between trees with spoons to "play" them
    Spare hosepipe wound along the fence with a funnel at each end to use as a telephone
    buckets of water and decorating brushes
    air flow balls on a washing line for counting and partitioning (make an abacus)
    plastic drinks bottle skittles (weighted with sand or water)
    trellis for weaving
    Shallow trays for water
    Small area with pots, soil & some laminated flowers with numbers on from **********
    Weaving on the railings
    Hanging water bottles with diff colours and glitter
    Magnifying glasses, pics of e.g. minibeasts that chn can look for, tools, binoculars, identify leaves

    Ask 'freecycle' for things...wheelbarrows, spades...

    Rainy Day Box
    umbrellas, tarpaulins to sit under and listen to the rain, wellies, containers to collect the rain,
    rain gauge, cooking oil and food colouring to add to puddles, washing-up liquid to add to puddles & brooms to sweep the mixture, pipettes, crepe paper, drain pipes to make water ways, foil containers (from the take away) to listen to the sound of rain, chalks to draw around puddles, paint for 'real' water colour painting - paint the shed with poster paint in the rain, big syringes, funnels, bubble mixture, u-bends

    Garden Centre Box
    gardening gloves, child and adult sized tools, seeds, plant pots, watering cans, garden labels and pencils, price lists, gardening magazines, compost

    Pavement cafe
    checked plastic table cloths, plastic cutlery/ cups/plates/glasses etc, menus (from various cafes/ take aways, laminated), pens/pencils, small note pads for waiters/waitresses to take orders, trays, white board and pens to write menu of the day

    Mark making box
    clipboards, pens, pencils, felt pens (different sizes), crayons, small white boards and pens, small chalkboards and chalk (inc. chunky chalks), decorators? brushes and rollers in different sizes, plant sprays, pavement chalks, paints, paper (various sizes and types), note books, pieces of coal and soft limestone, Henry hoover to 'write' by sucking up sand from a tarp., letter stencils for them to draw round

    Windy Weather Box
    flags, streamers, umbrellas, scarves, sheets, ribbon sticks, windmills .......large garden type and hand held, ribbons attached to curtain rings to fly in the wind (or attached to hair scrunchies), streamers, bubbles, windsocks, balloons, confetti, wind chimes, foam frisbees, cheerleader pompoms, kites, super light fabric ball. The parachute isn't in the box but we use it on windy days too.

    Explorers? box with magnifiers, binoculars, torches, etc...
    Camping box
    Dance box

    Jungle box
    a camouflage net, a map of the Congo, pith helmets (from fancy dress company on line), walkie talkies (cheap from Tesco but they work), binoculars & telescope (both from Tesco), twig pencils (think they came from Fair Trade), notebooks and diaries, jungle animal books, a compass, torches , water bottles,
    a pop up tent, big sheets of paper to draw their own maps and back packs to carry everything

    Car wash

    Beanbags, bats and balls, paintbrushes, rollers & decorators trays etc, sheets of paper, masking tape, chalks, felt-tip pens, clipboards etc
    You also need to negotiate storage near to the playground (or put up a shed. You really do not need a load of wheeled toys or even big stuff-if you do have them you could maybe store them near the playground and have them put outside/brought in daily (whatever the weather) by older children who love the responsibility-you could have stilts, space hoppers, hoops and ropes. Ask for some outdoor ply to be fixed to the walls for chalking-good for ANY age not just reception. You could site a couple of big tractor tyres in the playground-one with soil for digging or planting, one with sand (spades etc in your trolley!!!) you could create areas of logs for minibeast hunts, scrabbling, small world play (dinosaurs/farm animals, cars etc(resources in your trolley)

    Trail http://www.ltscotland.org.uk/earlyyearsmatters/previousis...
    The LTS site has some good ideas for outdoor learning

    Bear Hunt
    We made an obstacle course in PE and pretended to go on a bear hunt using plastic stepping stones / upturned benches to get across the river, etc. Then we used instruments in the classroom to represent the grass, storm etc and we also recorded our performance on a CD. Now the children love to listen to themselves. Turned our role play area into a big cave with binoculars, welly boots etc and re-enacted the story.

    We made a small world bear hunt in a long gardening tray. Chn. collected grass, mud, etc, and we made a papier mache cave. Chn. made puppets to 'tell' the story. Chn. used 'digital blue' video recorder then showed their work on IWB to rest of class.

    ..a story map. Give each child something to draw and then put it all together. Label things outdoors such as the long tall grass and then take the children on a bear hunt. Hide some bears for them to find (weather permitting of course!)

    Photos of chidren investigating the area - print them as big as possible & add questions or captions. Favourite class toy or teddy or puppet playing out doors with captions etc as above.
    Photos of outdoor activities as children are engaged in them -both adult led and child initiated - to inspire everyone to engage in similar activities.
    Photos of 'through the seasons' activities....maybe divide your board into 4 and add a bit about clothing....
    Put together some learning journeys showing, for example, how you provided a selection of big cardboard cartons and drapes and what they did with them (with your support).

    big construction resources, dancing, construct obstacle courses
    binoculars and note pads to write about the things they see
    Letter sound matching games & books

    ?Playing with Sounds? games such as Cross the River

    A leaf shape card for each child covered in double sided tape as they explored forest - find all spring colours and stick onto the leaf and when finished they had a leaf with lots of shades of green.
    You could make a map of the walk that you will be doing for the children to follow as you go around pointing out natural and man-made features.
    You could find lots of pairs of binoculars and encourage children to look out for birds on the walk.
    They could have things to find in pairs, while they are on their walk, eg something smooth, something beautiful, something straight etc - maybe having six little cards and a bag to collect them in.

    On my planning I put the outdoor curriculum activities in red text. There is always on teacher led activity outside, then a couple of groups are given set tasks outside to do independently, and there are other activities for children that are 'choosing' outside. All activities are on a rota basis, so children that wouldn't choose to go outside still get the experience. The biggest problem is limiting the number of children outside when there is choosing, at the moment we have an 'arm band' system (just made from hair scrunchies!). 15 arm bands, once they have gone children have to wait for someone to come in before they go out, that way we know how many children are outside, and they are still getting some sort of choice! (The Ofsted inspector thought the arm bands were a good idea last year!)

    Use a couple of old car tyres to create gardens?ask for donations of seeds / plants from parents create a type of 'sensory' garden with plants like mint.
    one tyre free from plants for the children to dig in.
    Old wellies - planted plug plants in them and hang them on the fence - they look fab!
    Request things from parents!
    Home corner
    Basket with a cheap picnic set
    Make a ?phone' by attaching funnels to the ends of a piece of plastic piping and threading that along the fence.
    Cheap plastic guttering and drainpipes to use with the cars and in the water tray.
    Chalk out playground markings then use emulsion. It lasts for ages but we were able to get rid of it with a jet washer when we got money for the professional ones. In terms of planning I list outdoor & indoor activities on the same sheet indicating whether they are adult supported or child initiated. Those activites (indoor and outdoor) which are there all the time are filled in (or will be when I finish them all!) on a 'continuous provision' planning sheet.
    Finger painting on windows outside - you could get some great firework finger paintings, especially if you blu-tacked black paper on the inside of the windows. Take prints of our patterns by rubbing paper on the windows.
    Go for a walk to collect sticks etc and build a 'bonfire' outside? We have lots of 'hunts' outside. We have a small tree outside as well as one inside and hide the decorations for them to find but also have days when I hide laminated numbers / letters / objects in a specific colour etc. They love racing round and finding all the things to put in my basket.

    Take one bucket of water and large decorating brushes. Children can "paint" the paving, letters, shapes or anything at all.

    'The little book of outdoor play'. We made a huge abacus using quoits from the PE store! We also got a grandad to make a large weaving frame and a role play area board which is 3 pieces do wood ( a front with door and 2 sides) it has velcro across the top so we can attach fronts to make jungle dens, hospitals, café, shop etc, and the children help us make the fronts.

    We went to our local garage which was excellent. next day had loads of cardboard boxes children started painting them making petrol pumps, air blocks the garage man is bringing a exhaust, wheels, car seat?computer, tills, ramps, books writing area and so on.

    Our outside classroom (not playground!) is zoned into workshop stations eg big block play, physical, role play, creative, discovery area etc. Each area is resourced to reflect the 6 areas of learning as much as possible. We have taken part in an outside project and have removed bikes from the constricted space we have except when we ca give them a purpose - for example last week we were doing heavy and light and so we attached various weighted boxes to the back of the bikes so the children could compare. Other ways we have used a bike are for a fire engine, a delivery bike, a police bike etc as part of role play. The thing with bikes is as practitioners we need to think of learning and challenge - once you can ride a 3 wheeler where is the challenge? However I would argue that they are learning - gross motor skills, sharing and turn taking, being aware of the space around them, moving with control etc. We always have a waiting list and a timer out with the bikes. In this way they learn about how lists work, are motivated to write their name legibly and we get IT out of it setting and stopping the timer.

    'A Place to Learn' is available from Amazon. Also worth a look is 'Playing Outside: Activities, Ideas and Inspiration for the Early Years' by Helen Bilton (also on Amazon)

    We have bikes/scooters out one week out of three, the climbing frame another week and a series of barrels on the third week. Two sit and ride wooden toys are out all the time.

    I have a six-week set of activities pre-planned to cover a half-term, but chop and change them to suit.

    A different activity outside every day to cover the six areas of learning.

    learning 'i' - the children made tents out of material and pegs and pretended they were igloos, a focus group chalked 'iii' on the walls and drew 'i' things on the ground. We had a mat with 4 hoops and lots of objects. Each hoop had a letter in it (sat or i) that we have been learning this week.....'

    As a compromise we have 12 children out in each session, and those children wear a band. Therefore they choose to go out but can't go out if they have no band on. Bands (homemade) are on a first come first served basis - if you don't get a band you aint going out. If they want to go out after they can plan for that activity - put their name on the board at the door and we will ensure they go next time - rotate groups about every 15 mins.

    The adult outside works on a focus activity with the children, depending on what our focus is for the day/week. We tend to have 6 on the activity, 6 playing then rotate.

    Depending on the week, we may have an activity that lasts all week and we ensure that all children do it. We do a focus activity plan for this. Other times an adult will work with the children who are interested in the activity (which changes daily) although we do encourage children to participate.

    If our learning intention for CLL is to recognise and sort 'p' objects from non-p objects for example, I would have my smartboard inside with the children doing it in small groups, and outside big hoops with big objects that the children physically move - thereby the children who prefer to be outside are still learning. And if my Maths LI is 'to recognise numbers 1-10, I might have a matching game inside and outside skittles or a washing line with laminated clothes with numbers on them.

    Jack and the Beanstalk - use the playground equipment to retell the story collaboratively. Use the apparatus to stage the story?children sliding down the slide using it as a beanstalk, going through the tunnels to get to the castle etc.
    I also had a huge beanstalk in the classroom which motivated the children to talk about it.
    You could make story boxes to use with small groups to retell the story.
    This link is also useful as an alternative way of telling them the story.
    Click on J&TBS
  6. Sorry, I'm tired! I've just re-read your post and it says things they can do independently! Oh well, you might find something in this lot!!
  7. Thanks for that, they look lovely!
  8. Vanina! That is a brilliant list, it has given me loads of ideas- thank you so much! Is there any chance you can upload a photo of your area- it sounds truely inspiration, I am going to use loads of those ideas-they are great!
  9. I agree - Vanina that list is fantastic!! Thank you x
  10. Just checking through my hotlist and these ideas are fantastic, thank you so much for all the ideas.
  11. What a fantatstic job Vanina!
    Thank you.
  12. The ideas presented are excellent

    Now how about going back to the children and ask them what they know about, say, camping as a topic, then workout from their knowledge how to expand on this learning.You will then find some real gaps that you can fill. Camping links with Homes and Shelters but culd also be about Holidays or first few weeksback at school.

    Insecta and Minbeasts is a fab one for summer term.
  13. Vanina, your ideas are fabulous and have inspired me!
    My outdoor classroom is for all ages and I wonder if anyone has any ideas for children aged 8 - 11? I see that some of the Early Years ideas can be adapted, but how can I make it a really worthwhile learning experience for older, more 'sophisticated' pupils? Also from the pupils' point of view, not having them feel they are doing 'babyish' activities?
  14. Thanks for bumping this thread up smartspecs [​IMG] Some great ideas here!
  15. What an awesome list of ideas-I was feeling a bit stuck in a rut with my outdoor planning and came across this!! Thank you so much... :)

Share This Page