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!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Finding Fall, Part 1

I live in Southern California, so Autumn comes rather slowly around here. In fact, I haven't seen one red, yellow or orange leaf as of yet. Sigh. Thankfully, the director of my school is completely smitten with the season. So, rather than waiting for Fall to find us, we headed 50 miles out to find IT!


I spent my childhood up north, where Fall was one of the most spectacular seasons of the year. This being my first year in California, I was beyond excited to see what the pumpkin patches in SoCal had to offer. The director and I drove out to Lombardi Ranch on a mission to find every kind of gourd, pumpkin, corn, and winter vegetable you could think of. And to say the least, it was a sight to behold!

 We filled 3 wagons with the largest, most colorful, and most unshapely types of squash we could find.

 We toted mini pumpkins, dried gourds, and Indian corn. We also purchased 7 bunches of freshly cut corn stalks, complete with several silky ears of corn and several bales of hay.

The highlight of the purchase was the two GIANT pumpkins we found. We filled the entire van before heading back to school with our treasures of Autumn.

We put our treasures on display in the lobby for a few days; but soon they will enter the yard to be truly enjoyed by the children. We will place the hay bales around the yard. Some will be spread out as ground cover for the mighty pumpkins and some will be for climbing. We will tie the corn stalks to the poles in the sandbox and around the trees to make our own cornfield. And of course, we will leave out the large gourds, pumpkins and squash for the children to tote around, sit on, and carry in the wheelbarrow. "Loose Parts" and "Nature" at their finest!

We found Fall!

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