Saturday, 13 December 2014

Embracing outdoor play in Winter.

It is of course very easy to advocate for outdoor play in nice weather, when it is dry & mild - warm enough to be outdoors without coats etc. but let's be honest, it is harder on the colder, wetter days.
This week Winter really arrived for us, light snow, thick ice, sleet, driving rain, gale force winds etc. and yet we managed to be outside every day & the children enjoyed themselves & had fun in all those different types of weather. Now of course some children do feel the cold more than others, about 2-3 children tend to get very cold & need lots of extra clothing to help them stay happy outside for the hour. But honesty, the majority are so well dressed for the cold that they are more than happy to play outdoors & could probably stay out longer than the hour if necessary. And then there are about 4-5 children who are the hardiest I have ever seen, they are the ones playing with water even on the coldest days & if their gloves get wet, they just hand them over to get dried & put on another pair!
This week started off with really thick ice, our school is opposite a lough (that's a lake to most people) & so when the moisture of the lough comes across to the car park it turns into a skating rink. It was weird to hear the ice cracking as the cars drove onto it at drop off time & although our playground is more sheltered than the car park it was still covered in a layer of ice. I believe that it is important that the children learn how to walk on ice - it is a skill many adults never learned & that's why you see people creeping along on the footpaths etc. So, whilst we did treat the safety surface which ironically given it's name is treacherous in icy weather we left the tarmac for the children to negotiate for themselves. It was incredible to watch some children gingerly moving about whilst others were able to run about on it. The children enjoyed cracking the ice to expose the green safety surface below. 
On Wednesday we had arranged to walk up to the local nursing home to sing some Christmas songs for the residents & post Santa letters, this has become a real Christmas tradition for our class & the home has an amazing winter wonderland display in the foyer for the children to enjoy before posting their letters in a post box. It was horrendous weather that morning, driving rain & strong winds & we had been through a set of rain gear before 10.00. This is when I am grateful to have 2 sets as by 11.15 when we were getting ready to walk up the hill to the home we needed to get all the children into the second set to help keep them warm & dry on the walk. They had fun marching up the hill, stamping their feet to keep warm. They sang for 2 lots of residents before getting some buns, crisps & juice & posting their letters to Santa, then we braved the wintery weather again for the walk back down the hill for lunch. We did learn that the clumps of bushes dotted along the roadside offered lots of protection from the wind & we certainly missed them on some parts of the road.
We had a light dusting of snow on the Friday & it was sweet to hear some children planning to make a snowman - it was like icing sugar - and I suppose to a 3 year old that is what you do with snow, no matter how thin it is. It was lovely sitting in the snow with the fire lit waiting for the milk to heat up for hot chocolate and the children were fascinated by the way the 'snow' melted under any of the object set down on it.
A perfect circle left by the milk pan!
If this week proved anything to me it's that this class can truly enjoy any weather & make the most of it without too much complaint.

6 comments:

  1. Tin Box Tot would be outside all hours of the day if she could. The colder weather is going to be a real test of her hardiness. We've not had it quite as cold as you so far, but there is still frost in the garden this afternoon, so the icy weather is not far off. Enjoy the final few days before the Christmas holidays! #CountyrKids

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    1. Thanks Claire & good to hear your little one is a hardy type, hope you all have a lovely Christmas too.

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  2. It is SO refreshing to hear your schools view on health and safety and leaving some ice for the children to encounter. And that you still walked to do your singing regardless of the weather. I know our school would probably cancel that!

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  3. What a week of interesting weather for you to negotiate. It's great that you're still getting out and about in the snow and rain. As well as your stance on trying to get them used to walking on snow and ice. Thanks for linking up with Country Kids.

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  4. I just love your attitude and your appreciation for the fact that it's good for kids to experience all kinds of weather, not just what we consider "nice." And yes, it definitely helps to have two sets of clothing!

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    1. Hi Fiona & Linda & thanks for leaving the comments. We have been spoilt with the weather so far & then get quite a shock when the temps drop!

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