Developing engaging outdoor learning environments for the children in your program takes creativity and out-of-the-box thinking. Fortunately, there are a number of resources available to support your efforts and inspire employees.
- Pinterest – Encourage teachers to search for outdoor activities for children in their age group. Coach teachers to evaluate activities for developmental appropriateness, availability of resources, reflection of children’s interests, cultural backgrounds, etc. Chosen activities should also promote child-led exploration and process-oriented art.
- CCEI Activities Library – Search for activity ideas that can be incorporated into outdoor play in the Activities Library. If you are part of a CCEI center-based professional development subscription, a link to the library is available on the CCEI home screen once you log into your student account.
- ECE blogs – There are many blogs available to ECE professionals. They might be published by teachers, family providers, parents, or ECE related companies. Here is a list of blogs to watch for outdoor learning Ideas: https://www.himama.com/top-25-early-childhood-education-blogs-2016
Ideas for materials and resources:
- Recycled materials – encourage teachers to consider different ways that clean and safe recycled boxes and other containers can be used to enhance outdoor learning. Remind teachers to avoid choking hazards when collecting items for younger children. Ask parents and other members of the community to begin collecting recycled materials at home as well.
- Creative Reuse Centers – Some communities have access to local recycle and reuse centers that carry a wide variety of recycles materials, usually sold by the pound or bag. It is possible to find art materials, fabrics, construction materials, and other loose parts at these community reuse centers.
- Discount shopping – Dollar stores, Goodwill, or second hand stores are great places to find materials for outdoor play at reasonable prices. Yard sales can also be an excellent resource. FreeCycle or Craigslist are two online yard sale sites that often have free or low cost items that may be useful during outdoor play.
No matter where items are found, be sure teachers inspect and clean all items thoroughly before use. With a little inspiration and a bit of hunting, your teachers will have everything they need to enhance your program’s outdoor play space!