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!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Please Don't Touch the Rotting Pumpkins!

As the Outdoor Coordinator at our school, I try to keep our garden looking fresh and green. The teachers are responsible for planning the garden curriculum with their students. As a class, they discuss the types of seeds they will plant each season, then they plant and watch their gardens throughout the year. I simply put in the finishing touches...the things that busy teachers may not have time to do such as weeding and evenly watering it daily (the students also "help" water {ahem...drown!} the plants with their pint sized watering cans). I also put in the garden labels, set up garden cages and poles, and I tie up the running plants such as beans and peas. We also have a compost that I help maintain. I also tend to uproot anything that begins to look straggly....and so....

The three's teacher came to me the other day and asked that I PLEASE don't remove the rotting pumpkins that he placed in the back of the garden.

I must have given him the, "but that will look REALLY bad" look, because he went on to explain that it is part of their curriculum. You see, each year his class plants pumpkin seeds, observes as the seeds sprout and transform into green vines to brilliant yellow flowers, and then hopefully, grow into glorious orange pumpkins (no such luck this year, though).

In the Autumn, the parents donate numerous pumpkins for the children to handle, observe, cut open, squash seeds, bake seeds, cook a pumpkin dessert, and then finally, place the rotting pumpkins into the garden to decompose. 
And so, I didn't touch the rotting pumpkins that slowly decomposed in the back of the garden. And this week, so my surprise, the life cycle began again. Now THAT'S learning...OUTDOORS! ;-).

Take note of the SPROUT rising out of the pumpkin!

This little pile is from our bugs and worms sensory bin. When we had finished with the activity, the teacher plopped the dirt in the back of the garden. I had added a few beans into the bugs and worms bin just to see if the children would notice the little roots that began to form. As you can see, our little beans have began to sprout!

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