Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Learning in all weathers.

My blog is taking a new direction & subsequently I asked followers on the Facebook page for some ideas for posts & another topic suggested was "being creative with outdoor learning what ever the weather" by Debbie.
A little pop up den (from Cosy Direct) provides a quiet spot in the noisy playground.
So I have been thinking about this one all week. I know that I am very lucky to have a covered verandah area just off the classroom that allows us to be outside without actually being out in the rain etc. I did find it a little strange when one visitor suggested that some of the children were not actually outside if they were under the covered area, as let's face it they still need coats, gloves, scarves & hats when under the roof as it's just as cold under there as outside under the sky! But the cover does allow us to offer a wide variety of table top activities as well as all the usual outdoor learning resources, so on any day the children who don't want to be running, climbing, jumping or riding bikes can spend time playing with imaginative toys for example farm or zoo animals or drawing. There are usually 2 Tuff spots outside too with some construction resources & maybe some water or gloop or fine sand. Our sand pit is also under the cover & the snack table & a house corner.
A Tuff spot with gloop - messy activities are perfect for outside.
I have found myself watching weather forecasts intently 5 days a week when at school as I like to know exactly almost hour by hour what the weather will be like, it seems a bit obsessive but if I'm putting fine sand or pages & markers out I need to know it's not going to be windy or very wet, as the rain will blow under the cover & ruin the fine sand. If there is going to be heavy constant rain, then the bikes are a good bet as the children love riding round in the rain & we usually also bring out the powder paints so the children can paint with the rain. On wet days the guttering & pipes are a good idea too as the children can use the rain from the water butt as it fills up almost instantly. 

On dry days when there has been lots of frost & subsequently ice, the tyres are a great source of fabulous ice shapes as the water in the rim freezes. If you know it's going to be lovely & dry but cold, make some ice shapes overnight in the freezer (or if it's cold enough outside). The children will have fun playing with the shapes & watching them melt. Some years I have put leaves in the ice shapes & the children love getting them out of the ice. 
Ice shapes - trying to put the pieces back together is always fun

You can see the frost on the tyres but it's still fun to be outside
On snowy days (no matter how light the snowfall) we break out the sledges.

Of course it's much easier to be outside on warm, dry days but honestly for the past 7 years that we have been going outside everyday I can safely say that there has never been a day when any of the adults or children didn't enjoy being outside. We never have any child refusing to come outside or wanting back inside before it's time to go inside. The children quickly accept that they are going to be outside & will find extra layers if they do find themselves getting cold. It is of course important that the adults are dressed appropriately too with good warm boots & waterproof trousers & coats if necessary. In my setting most of us wear this everyday whether it's raining or not, so that we aren't worrying about kneeling down to help children put on wellies or sitting down on a damp tree stump to chat to children. 

I really do challenge anyone to try going outside everyday for a month. It will quickly become a habit you won't want to break. 

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