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Un-inspring outdoor classroom

Discussion in 'Early Years' started by louisea, Jun 17, 2011.

  1. louisea

    louisea New commenter

    I am moving into Reception in September after 10 years in KS1, got a lovely classroom (once I declutter) and a good sized outdoor area. Partly covered area, we have a mirror, small climbing wall, stationary drums, a seating area with sand/water tubs at each end (which I think is pretty useless as seems too high) the tops can be used for games and a road map.
    Also have a little wooden house and a big sand tray, circular table, a 'tuff spot' - think that's what it's called.
    It could be a really great area but it just seems a bit dull. My head is letting me go and look at some other EYFS outdoor areas at local schools which may be useful and we do have some money to spend!
    What have you got in your outdoor classroom? What makes it really work? What could we invest in to make it a really great place to play and learn.
    Once the current Reception teacher knew she was moving she has just given up on the outdoor classroom.
  2. Sounds like you have a lot already! Aren't you lucky!
  3. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

  4. Leapyearbaby64

    Leapyearbaby64 New commenter

    I think the key is to take a long term view rather than rushing into anything. You need to look at things like where the sun is during the day, where water pools in the rain, where gets slippy in the ice and so on before you invest in and place anything large. Then try to make sure the children have different experiences outside than inside. If there's space, build as big a sand pit as possible that they can climb into. Create an area where you don't mind lots of very wet and messy water play - buckets, taps, guttering, etc. Try and find space in the sun for a gardening area. Make sure there are some cubby holes for quiet play and role play. There were some quite good films on Teachers' TV about outdoor areas ... I don't know where you'd find them now. How nice to have some money - good luck and have fun! Oh - and PS, its amazing what a coat of fence paint can do if you have wooden fencing or buildings ...
  5. louisea

    louisea New commenter

    Thanks for your ideas! We do have a really nice area but just want to use it as best I can!
  6. Ensure that experiences in the outdoor classroom are different/bigger/better than inside...don't just put things that you could do inside out there!

    Use it as a way to engage children in activities that they don't usually have the opportunity to do, or to engage children in activities that they never look at inside, but will if it's outside in a different context. I always have several chidlren (usually boys) who never visit the reading corner, but take our mobile reading cases all over the outdoor classroom and set themselves up to read. We have 10 little cases (all donated from parents) with a blanket (again, donated), pillow (you guessed it!) and a selection of books in each. We sometimes theme them (eg space case, pirate case, princess case and put extra enhancements in them based on the class interests...alien toy to read with, pirate hat and eye patch, crown and cloak etc. This is purely from our enhancement sheets to ensure that it really gets the children using them. The cases just sit in our reading area, but the children know that they can roll them off and set up a little reading 'den' wherever they want to.

    We have our area split into 6 zones: water, reading, mark making (lit and num), den building, digging and large games. We then just add other things based on our observations and as enhancements.

    We have as many different opportunities in these areas as possible, and we keep them as varied as we can so that we catch all of the children's interests. In our mark making area alongside our 'normal' writing kit boxes and trundles of resources (pencils, pens, rulers, stencils, different types of paper, envelopes, white boards, clip boards, paints, stamps, brushes, scissors, tape, glue, information books, maps and stories...etc.etc.), we also have large white boards on wheels, a magnetic board on a wall, a blue, black and purple chalk board, portrait painting hangers, phonics feely boards, giant letter/sound fans etc.etc.

    We also have 2 large outdoor display boards. These were just £189 each and were a great investment...it makes the children really feel like it is an additional classroom and not just a 'playground'...we also make sure the children know it is called the outdoor classroom and is an area they are expected to learn in from day 1. If you are lucky enough to have an additional adult, the learning is much richer when scaffolded.

    Some of the best resources we have were very cheap...each year we hit the pound stores with £30 from each of our budgets.....and we get note pads, funnels, turkey basters (great for the water area!), large paint brushes, tool belts, compasses, buckets, colanders etc etc.

    Extra bits that are 'free' if you can get them donated:
    Old curtains cut into strips to weave in a fence.
    Old tyres the children roll around and use in our large play area and as all sorts in den building/role play.
    An old hose wiggled through the fence with a funnel on each end = a phone!

    Okay, sorry this is a hodge podge of ideas! My son is desperate to go and bake...I'm off!

    Good luck!
  7. fab ideas thanks - have just recently made a hose phone - love it and such a simple idea :)
  8. Hi, I just love the idea of reading cases - silly question but what are the cases? I'm imagining little suitcases but wondering if they are children's ones? thanks
  9. one school i was working in had a digging area, a large flowerbed on the ground (just made from wooden planks- not expensive). they planted vegetables and plants with the children and the children were allowed to dig around, pull vegetables out that were ready, dig for worms/insects, mix water to make mud, use the wheelbarrow to move soil from one end to the other. It was a really good learning experience for them (inner london, so not many of the children had gardens)- they learnt about plants growing and where vegetables come from, how materials change (eg adding water makes mud), how to keep themselves clean (wear your boots and an apron and gloves)...
  10. louisea

    louisea New commenter

    These ideas are FAB!!! I love them all. I know I need to get into the 'Reception mindset' after teaching in KS1 for so long. Bums on chairs is a no no lol!!
    I just want to do a good job and do the best for my children! Love your book case ideas and the hose phone - all things we can do with little money.
    Need to look for some cheap outside friendly cushions and other stuff....
  11. Leapyearbaby64

    Leapyearbaby64 New commenter

    LOVE the reading cases idea! Thanks so much. Another thing on my list to pinch!
  12. The digging area/garden ... my school in Perth, W Australia has the BEST EVER Edible Garden and I take the children there every two weeks at least to do gardening activities. As much as this provides a wonderful eco-learning experience you can provide a modified version in a polystyrene packing box. The children can plant and raise and harvest in a mini garden. Fantastic learning opportunity. Google edible gardens and there are plenty of ideas.

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