It Not "Just Recess" Anymore!

Teachers often heave a sigh of relief when they take their students out to recess. Finally! The children can burn off the pent up energy they had been accruing for the past few hours indoors. But what if we change our outlook on outdoor play time? What if we create an outdoor environment that offered all of the learning opportunities that one would typically find indoors? What if children could run out to a well-planned play yard to find experiences in math, science, nature, dramatic play, water, building and construction, sensory activities, physical development, art and music? What if they play yard developed critical thinking, discovery, problem solving, and cooperative skills? The result would be that we wouldn't have "just recess" anymore. We would have The Outdoor Classroom!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Boxes, Boxes and More Boxes!

You know, it always make me laugh how we feel the need to buy expensive toys for kids. It seems we fill that if we offer an expensive toy, their imaginations will be able to unfold like a butterfly's wings. We spend and we spend, and then we are frustrated that the children are not playing with the toys on end as we would hope. Well...out with the spending...grab some boxes for endless fun!

This week we added some painted boxes to our Outdoor Classroom. The children had painted them over the past week under the trees in our art center. They painted A LOT of boxes. They also painted the tires that we used as blockades from the bikes, the side walk, and the concrete around the garden bed. Hmmm...we'll have to work on that! Most of the children were also fairly covered in large blotches of paint as they forgot that leaning against a large, freshly painted box could be a slightly messy affair! I also saw a lot of the two year olds squishing the paint-filled rollers in their hands and watching as the bubbles of paint squeezed between their fingers. We did say it is the process that count, right???

Each day, we added new boxes of all shapes and sizes. We also changed up the colors and varied the painting tools each day, using brushes, rollers, etc. On one day, I only put out the color green. Our project focus was dinosaurs, so the big green box became a "Boxosaurus" (created by my imaginative coworker). We cut holes into the front and the kids had a go of throwing soft balls and beanbags into him.

This poor guy looks like he had a rough night...little did he know what he was REALLY in for!

 Of course, many of the kids did try to get into the holes, but hey, that's part of the fun. The kids had a blast!

Once all the boxes were painted, we put them into the block center for the kids to play with. I did tape some of the boxes shut, but left some open as well. This station was filled with children for the entire week. Many of the boxes had to be "retired" throughout the week, but somehow we managed to replenish our stock with other boxes we found lying around. The kids have asked to keep the boxes going for another week...perhaps we should add some extra fun and make a "whole body pendulum" like the one I saw on Teacher Tom's blog (check it is quite a sight!)! Nice work, Tom!

Did you know? Painting boxes allows children to develop fine, gross and stabilizing muscles. Painting on vertical, flat, and horizontal surfaces forces the children to stand upright, bend down, reach, and change motions as they paint! 

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