Ways to encourage outdoor experiences:
Indoors, children may be measuring using rulers and tapes; outdoors they can explore non-standard measures. Consider beginning with sloppy wet mud and exploring boot tracks. Extend using runny paint and lining paper – who has the longest stride? Who can predict the steps needed from the sandpit to the outdoor house?
In the indoor construction area, children could be building with small wooden blocks; outdoors they can explore natural or large objects. Provide logs or large amounts of smooth flat stones to stack and knock over. Extend by providing large empty cardboard boxes to pile up – who can build the tallest structure? Which tower is the most stable?
Crash, bang, wallop
The indoor music area offers opportunities to investigate small instruments and make sound patterns; outdoors, children can make lots more noise on a larger scale. Supply new metal dustbins and lids and beaters for a steel band or make a bucket band with assorted plastic buckets, bowls and wooden spoons. Extend by developing a hanging band with saucepans, metal mugs, assorted pans, lengths of metal and plastic piping and metal plates attached to a washing line. Who can repeat back a sound pattern?
Splish, splash, splosh
The indoor water tray can be extended outdoors to give children time and space to explore water, without the need to ‘mop up’. Consider an outdoor water tap, water barrel or hose. Make a collection of large containers to fill and empty, including those with sprinklers. Extend to include large guttering and water pipes in paddling pools. Don’t forget the opportunities to splash in and sweep up puddles! Who can predict how many small buckets fill the watering can?
The indoor home corner offers multitudinous chances to explore measures and an outdoor mud kitchen enhances this. Create a mud kitchen – with balances, scales, pots, pans, buckets, wooden spoons, ladles and a water source. Extend by adding laminated recipe or ‘spell’ cards and encourage children to write their own. Who attempts to follow the recipe? How many pebbles balance the bucket of mud?
The outdoor space offers the prospect of pursuing the universally popular activity of creating dens. Supply wooden blocks, crates, tyres, guttering, plastic pipes, cardboard tubes, cardboard boxes, rugs, blankets, duvet covers, lengths of fabric, ties and pegs, metal A frames, planks and barrels. Extend by adding maps and explorer packs to encourage role play. Who plans a construction and who uses a trial and error method? How many children can fit inside the den?
Dig and delve
Children need space to grow flowers, fruit and vegetables, but also space to simply dig, fill containers and transport soil. A clearly identified ‘digging area’ offers this opportunity outdoors. Provide shovels, rakes, buckets, watering cans, sieves and wheelbarrows. Extend by adding a pulley system to support children’s transportation of water and soil. What strategies do children use to move heavy buckets?
Many children love to make a mess – and with teabags soaked in coloured paint, they can certainly do that! Encourage the children to predict who can throw their painty teabag the furthest, and then try it and see. Extend by using standard or non-standard measures to compare the throws. Who predicts the distance most accurately?
Numbers surround us everywhere in the environment. Involve families by encouraging them to share a number they see outdoors with their child. This can be done by hard copy, but more easily by sending to a drop box from a mobile phone. Encourage families to include door numbers, bus numbers, price labels, advertising posters or road signs. Collect the numbers and supplement them with your own – create a laminated outdoor number line and model use with the children. Extend by adding a washing line and second set of numbers – encourage the children to order the numbers. Who uses the fixed number line for clues? Who uses number names?