Friday, 8 November 2013

Outdoor Play Party - Norwegian influences.

I am so delighted to welcome Erin from The Usual Mayhem back to the OPP & to welcome a new co-host, the brilliant Leila from Mud, Mud, Marvellous Mud. It's always great to connect with like minded bloggers across the globe & for us all to able to host a collaborative linky every fortnight is a honour.
I loved seeing children climbing up on top of the sheds in Norway
In 2008 I was very lucky to be able to spend a week working in an outdoor Kindergarten, in Eikefjord, Western Norway. At the time the kindergarten was one of our Comenius partners & I received funding from the British Council to go on a job shadow of one of the outdoor teachers, Susette. The 5 days I spent in the kindergarten from 8 until 4.30 had an amazing & far reaching impact upon my practice. I can remember coming back to my own setting & deciding to make so many changes all at once! The biggest thing I believe I took back from that time was to stand back during outdoor play & allow the children to take more of a lead, before this experience we would definitely have been more 'hands on' & in a more 'teacher' mode during outdoor play. I can actually remember some of the Norwegian teachers laughing at the fact I was in the sand pit with the children, they saw that as interfering with their play. I did a lot of observing that week & I saw that the adults may have looked like they were standing around when in fact they were watching all the play very closely & were ready to step in & help it develop if necessary. 
A student I have this year,who was a parent volunteer last year was telling me that that was the hardest thing for her to adjust to when she started in the class - she was used to being 'on' when around young children & entertaining them, whereas, she noticed immediately that the adults don't do that in my setting.
Children very happy with very little resources
When I look at the photos I took in 2008, they all look like the kind of play I might see any day in my class and yet 5 years ago it seemed very different to me. The children didn't need a lot of resources to have fun, they played with whatever was around them - loose parts long before I ever heard the term -sticks, gravel, water, mud etc.
When I travelled to Iceland last month with Fafu I was fascinated by how much some of the other adults were amazed by the perceived lack of adult intervention in play & in fact it had become a standing joke to play 'spot the adult' as this was not always possible in some playgrounds or areas. This aspect didn't really trouble or me or stand out to me, as I had seen it in Norway & I also know that on any given day in the forest it would be possible to come across a group of children in my class on their own with no adult in sight. It made me realise how far my own practice has come in 5 years & in fact when I was speaking to one of my colleagues back home during the Iceland trip, she said 'Oh flip, what are you going to have us doing now?' as she well remembered how much I wanted to change when I came back from Norway!
5 years later, quite similar play in Iceland.
5 years ago a lot of the risky play I saw did challenge me but now it is definitely part & parcel of everyday play in my setting & some days when the children are all wrapped up in their rain gear I can well believe that I could be teaching somewhere in Scandinavia!!

Even though the past week has been very chilly as Autumn moves closer to winter for us, it was great to see so many posts linked up & to see people are trying their best to have some outdoor fun no matter what. My favourite post from them all was from Jenny over at Mummy Mishaps of her son sitting up a tree! I loved that it's the first thing he asks when he gets out of school & even better that he is allowed to get up there in his uniform!

  • 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 FacebookTwitterPinterest.Please 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!

20 comments:

  1. Loved this post so much! I feel the same, although I don't run a preschool but with my own children I was always 'there' doing stuff with them, or suggesting they do things... Now I'm the opposite, in my latest post there are pictures of the boys in a river... I'm standing on the banks and bridge watching them and letting them get on with it... a couple of years ago I'd be in there with them panicking that they might fall over etc. I think we need to learn to trust children more... both with safety aspects and also by letting them choose what they do without interfering.

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    1. Hi Charlotte & thanks for your support as always, it used to be weekly but then we decided fortnightly was less pressure on us! It is all a learning curve isn't it with children, either as a parent or a teacher. The hardest thing is to stand back & let them attempt things for themselves. Sometimes with all our experiences we worry about what we think might happen!

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  2. Also can you please, please consider hosting the outdoor play party weekly instead of fortnightly at some point?! It's the highlight of my week (fortnight) :) x

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  3. Love this link-up theme!! Thanks for collecting so many wonderful outdoor play ideas in one spot!

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    1. Thanks Maria! It's great to see so many people out having fun!

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  5. What a wonderful post! It really resonated with me, particularly the standing back and allowing them space to play without interference from us. Sometimes as a Mum it is hard to do this and the culture in this country is to be very hands on. I do get funny looks sometimes when I just let Little Man get on and play and equally I sometimes find myself bowing to the pressure to interfere. Reading this has absolutely made me reflect and think about how I am, not only with Little Man but when I do get the chance to work with groups at work. More outdoor free play for all!!

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    1. Hi Leila or should I say, fellow Outdoor Play partner! It is a real skill to develop & you are right it's often fear of what others might think that make us step in & get more involved. From all that I see on your blog, you are doing a great job allowing Little Man to develop into n independent, confident learner.

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  6. Such a wonderful post where it is so apparent that the children are having a fantastic time and learning valuable life skills together. It's lovely to see children have such creative and imaginative play with loose parts - some of which is found in natures playground. Thanks for linking up and sharing your inspirational post with Country Kids.

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    1. Cheers Fiona & great to see outdoor posts going from strength to strength.

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  7. My wee man is not very good at letting me take a step back but I try my best and let him lead how he wants the play to develop though.

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    1. Hi Sabrina, it all depends on age doesn't it & it's different when it 's just you & him out playing, I think it's much easier for a teacher to take a step back than a parent.

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  8. Really enjoyed reading about this preschool in Norway - of course it sounds and looks a lot like the preschools I'm used to from having grown up in Sweden. I really wish there were more of them here in the US, unfortunately I think a lot of kids here miss out on this aspect of childhood completely.

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    1. Hi Linda, yes I reckon anyone from Scandinavia would recognise this type of approach & I was delighted to see it in action in Iceland too. But I have seen little pockets of outdoor preschools in the US, so they do exist too!

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  9. Love it! "What is she going to have us do now?"

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  10. what an interesting read and it always so fascianting to learn how pre school children are allowed to play in another country. i often srtand back and see what my two will do without me and it usually involves piucking up sticks and stones and trying to climb things! I sometimes initiate some ideas and i am always close to hand but i think it is important to allow them the freedom to run about and really enjoy the space and the outdoors and all it offers them.
    and thank you so much for including my photo of Burton up the tree - i love that photo so much so i am chuffed that you liked it too x x

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    1. Thanks Jenny, as a mum of 2 boys you are probably had to learn to embrace risk earlier than most!

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  11. How wonderful to see them playing so freely and without restraint, slightly mindblowing to see the mountain ranges in the background though!

    Thanks for hosting.

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    1. Thanks for linking up & your continued support. The view was breathtaking, it is one of the most western points in Norway.

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