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Your outdoor space provides many learning opportunities for young children. They learn to navigate new challenges, re-navigate familiar ones, and explore the world around them. Being outside fills their lungs with fresh air, and allows them to use their large muscles for running and climbing. An outdoor space should be equipped to allow the children to explore the area independently.
When you set up your outside space you can save money by building outdoor items yourself, shopping for second hands items, using items from nature, and using recycled materials.
Bring learning spaces outside
Create opportunities for children to do everything they do inside-outside. You can create a responsive space for art, construction, dramatic play, science, reading and music.
Create a space for art-outside
Depending on your budget you can invest in an acrylic outdoor easel, or DIY your own that will withstand the weather.
As an alternative, you can bring your indoor easel outside with you, or attach clips to your fence to hold paper, and supplies.
Outdoor art area created by Felecia J. of Mrs. Felecia's Playhouse Preschool
If you are short on space, create an outdoor tote or cart that contains a variety of paintbrushes, paint, T-shirt smocks, and side walk chalk.
A fun alternative to an easel, is an outdoor chalkboard! Create your own using chalkboard paint!
Outdoor chalkboard created by Naomi G. of Play Matters Preschool
Bring the Art outside! Even if you don't have a dedicated outdoor art space, you can bring your art projects outside. You can create art outside during all seasons. Some ideas include: painting snow, making collages from fall leaves, and sun prints in the summer.
Sheena W. of Building Blocks Family Childcare shared the above process art project. She filled pantyhose with sand, the children dipped the end into paint and dropped it onto the paper.
There are a variety of outdoor structures available to meet the gross motor needs of the children in your care. A quality play structure is a great investment in your business. They often include a slide, swings, climbing walls, and built in play houses. Keep in mind most states have requirements for safety surfacing when adding structures over a certain height.
If you don't have a lot of space for a structure: consider a tunnel, balance beam, trikes, cozy coupes, wagons, other ride on toys,tires, low stumps for climbing, or a natural slide built into your existing landscape.
Other items to have on hand for outdoor play include:
This balance beam belongs to Naomi G. of Play Matters Preschool
Jocelyn T. of Helping Hands Daycare
worked with her existing landscape to insert a slide into a gentle hill.
Music brings such joy! Create a music wall in your backyard, by securing a variety of recycled items to a wall or fence. If you don't have space to dedicate to a music wall, consider a portable option such as a tote filled with plastic instruments, a small battery operated radio, or pans and wooden spoons for an impromptu marching band.
This fabulous music wall was created by community member Annie B.
Create a space for gathering
Create a space outside for your children to gather. Group activities are fun outside!
Your gathering area can be as simple as a picnic blanket on the lawn-to something as elaborate as an outdoor covered area.
This fun outside space belongs to Naomi G. of Play Matters Preschool
An outdoor picnic table provides a place to serve outdoor snacks, and meals. It also provides a quiet space for children to draw or do a table top activity while outside.
create opportunities for small world play,
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