Friday, 2 January 2015

1st Outdoor Play Party of 2015!


Welcome to the first Outdoor Play Party for a whole new year & here is to a 2015 filled with great outdoor memories.I hope that more & more teachers & parents realise in 2015 that good quality outdoor play does not require a massive space or loads of expensive resources.
Over the past 8 years in our current playground I have come to realise that children are happiest when they have space to run about, hide from adult eyes, have access to water, mud & sand & most of all have other children to interact with. We have had so much fun exploring 'Bear Woods' on a weekly basis for over a year now & yet, still after each visit, the 2 of us (the main staff) say to each other 'I can't believe how much enjoyment we all get out of that tiny space' - we are still amazed each visit by how a previously unused strip of land can provide us with such an incredible learning space.
A class of 28 children can spend up to 2 hours up here with little or no resources.
I was lucky to get the chance to give a short presentation at a Teachmeet in November all about how we had developed our wild/wooded area with the main school grounds & how this had led to the development of 'Bear Woods'. I hope that some of those listening were able to go back to their schools & look at pieces of underused land with new eyes & see the potential of it.
There is a great book by Claire Warden called 'The Potential of a Puddle', I think there should be a another one for schools to see how they can use the spaces they already have. 
A well used outdoor space - it's not pretty!
Our playground has evolved from being a clean, open, tidy space to become one full of different little areas for children to enjoy exploring. I love it when people visit & 'get' the space immediately, seeing all the play opportunities it offers. I think the best compliment it received was from Peter from Cosy, when he visited he observed that it felt like a much bigger space because of all the various areas created. It is always good to keep evaluating your outdoor space to make sure it meets the needs of the children currently using it, it never ceases to amaze me how each class interacts with the space in a completely different way - some years they spend a lot of time in the little house, other years on the slide, this year the class tend to spend a lot of their time in the mud kitchen, forest area & reading area under the slide.
And brings me neatly to the highpoint of 2014 for me in our outdoor play journey - the addition of our amazing mud kitchen.
Every setting needs a mud kitchen & a friend like Martin!
Thanks to Martin from Highway Farm Activity Centre & Adam (one of our parents) the nursery now has a deluxe mud kitchen in one corner of the playground. I will never be able to repay these 2 for their generosity but I hope they both realise just what an impact this area has had on outdoor play at Windmill.
Who knows what 2015 will bring but I do have plans to create a den in Bear Woods & hopefully another bigger willow den up their too. 
Here is to a great year spent outdoors creating more memories for a whole new generation.

There were lost of Christmassy posts linked up in the last OPP so no surprise my featured post has that theme - I loved this one from Little Steps on how they went to choose their Christmas tree, it was lovely to see the family exploring the tree farm before picking the one they wanted to take home & decorate. This seems like a lovely family tradition to create.
"Now it’s time for this week’s Outdoor Play Party. We would 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 Pinterest. 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 at’ button from the sidebar.) Share your ideas for outdoor play activities with us every other week!"


13 comments:

  1. I love following the development of your little strip of wild. Reminds me of the little wooded piece of our playground.

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    1. Thanks for your continued support. Seems like no time since you were sharing photos of the big rocks in your new space.

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  2. 'Our playground has evolved from being a clean, open, tidy space to become one full of different little areas for children to enjoy exploring.' I love that. Designing natural playspaces is challenge enough without butting up against the idea that a space has to be clean and tidy to be valid. It is an adult-centric idea that needs to be educated out of existence before you can start creating a space that is both enticing and challenging, one that has potential for awe and possibility.

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    1. So true Tess & you know more than most how many playground spaces are totally designed by adults with little or no regard for the children who will actually inhabit the space. I truly value your opinion & thanks for such a great comment.

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  3. I love the way your outdoor space has evolved. I've watched it grow over the past 3 years and it is always a delight to see what you are adding and how well the children adapt and play with everything you offer. I think I've messed up the first link up today, hope you can delete it. Next two are fine. so sorry.

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    1. Hi Fiona, links are ok but I'll get Jen to delete the first one for you.

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    2. thank you, too enthusiastic!

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  4. That definitely looks like a well-used and enjoyed play area and I love the mud kitchen! :-)

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    1. Thanks Louise, isn't it amazing? I still love seeing it every day.

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  5. I agree that you need a lot of things for a kid to enjoy the outdoors. What a love read =) #countrykids

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  6. I am looking forward to being involved in Forest School with the infants from next week! Kids just love being outside and can gain so much from it

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  7. Hi, looking at your comment about your play space not being a pretty sight but being well used is how it should be. To me it shows that the children love the area and it is well used. We go to some playschemes where the environment is spotless and too clean, to me thats not a well used and true play environment.

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    1. Hi all & thanks for taking the time to leave comments. Hope all goes well with the first school Becky, I am going to be doing an after school forest club with the older children this term so that will be interesting. Agreed Kim, a tidy space is rarely one used by children on a regular basis.

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