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!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

It's Raining, It's Pouring, the 3's Room is Flooding (but not from the rain!)

I was planning on writing a fantastic blog today on the fun we had exploring the Post Office theme we have set up in our outdoor dramatic play area. It is really great...we have mail boxes, writing stations, dress-up clothes, and even "US Postal Truck" signs on all the bikes so the kids can ride around delivering their packages. 
However, it rained. Actually, it rained HARD! Being Southern California, most of the kids don't come dressed for extremely wet weather, so we donned our sweaters and stayed on the patio. The patio is a great place and we use it every day as an extension of the classroom. As the Outdoor Curriculum Coordinator, it is my job to plan and run the patio activities for the "older" pod (3-PK) in addition to planning the big play yard. The great part of our patio system is that it allows the more "active" and "outdoor oriented" children to spend time outdoors being slightly more loud and energetic than is acceptable indoors. Like most schools, each class must have an allotted time on the playground which inhibits the coveted indoor-outdoor flow system. Having the patio is our compromise as the children can use the patio throughout their entire free play session. I generally supply activities in art, easel activities, fine motor, gross motor, clay, small-scale dramatics, and cool (aka messy) science. 
But I digress. Today, I must talk about our "Water Event" table. 

This table was constructed by a structural engineer with money that was donated to our school. Our vision was to make the table as interactive as possible and was meant to also serve as a sort of 'water feature' while the children weren't using it. It really is a piece of work and it is very popular with the children. As you might guess, it was extremely popular today considering the children couldn't go out into the big yard to play. I recently added some siphons that we purchased at a hardware store to the table. They were great fun, but out little buckets just weren't large enough to hold all the pouring water. 

So, I added a 5 gallon bucket and some large PVC pipes to really get them engaged. The new additions were quite a splash with the kids and they had a fantastic time pumping and watching as the water came up the clear tubes, then back down into the bucket. It was a nice exercise in cooperation, too, since the tubes required one person to hold one end in the water while the other held it down into the bucket. It was 3 minutes until cleanup and everything had gone off without a hitch.

  But of course, this is preschool, so one must expect a hitch to come up at the busiest moment. And that it did...the 5 gallon bucket was tipped over by one of the more rambunctious boys of the group, and the brilliant pink water went spilling across the floor and under the door and into our three's classroom. Well, it wouldn't be preschool without some sort of water "event"!

Thankfully, as I'm writing this, I can see the sun peeking through the clouds. Ahhhh...there is hope for tomorrow! Oh Mr. Sun, Sun, Mr. Golden Sun, please shine down on me!


  1. Wow Kristin, I love your centre - the space you have is amazing. I thought I had a great space but now I'm unsettled!!

  2. Thanks! Unsettled it good usually means we become proactive for positive changes :-)