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!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Arctic Animal Excavations, Gak, a Pots and Pans Band, and More!

The holidays have past and the children are back into full swing at school. So, it is time to keep up with the post-holiday energy by adding some great new activities to the Outdoor Classroom.

Arctic Animal Excavation (Science, Sensory, Fine Motor) -

In the spirit of winter, we provided an "Arctic Animal Excavation" station. I placed a few arctic animals in 3 separate bowls and put them in the freezer overnight.

Each morning, I popped out the frozen animals and placed them in the sensory bins. I then added a few new animals to the bowls, refilled with water, and set them into the freezer for the next day.

Armed with goggles (this is a must due to flying ice!), child-sized hammers, and golf tees "nails", the children excavated the animals from their ice bergs.

The older children really took a fancy to this activity and they pounded the ice with great gusto (hence the goggles!). Once the animals were excavated, the ice melted throughout the morning and made a nice arctic animal mini-world play area.

Since I haven't blogged in oh-so-long, here are a few other things going on this week.

Gak -
This is a super sensory experience as Gak is very similar to the gooey slime that you can purchase in stores. I used 1 part white school glue to 1 part liquid starch. I also added a touch of liquid water color.

Simply mix with a spoon (or your hands!) until the mixture is combined. Mine started out a bit like stringy spaghetti, but after sitting for a bit, it all came together perfectly.

By the way, do you know that you can blow bubbles by sticking the end of a straw into the Gak??? Fun!

For a translucent effect, use clear glue and liquid water color. This mixture has a slightly softer texture. For those of you with a bit of potty humor, put the mix in a cup and squish it down...oh the sounds it does make! ;-) heehee!

Home-made Drum Band-
This was a super-simple, but oh-so-pleasing activity for the kids. The music area in our playground sits within 100 feet of one of our upper elementary buildings, so we are always cautious not to make too much noise. However, while the elementary students were on break, we take advantage of our right to make some noise!

And what better noise than a Pots N' Pans band? We set out pots, pans, oatmeal containers, buckets, wooden spoons and drums sticks.

The students, and even a few enthusiastic teachers, had a great time making "music."

 A few girls put the materials to another use...they were making "soup" instead of music :-).

Snowy Easel -
Another super-easy, but oh-so-pleasing sensory activity...shaving cream on the easel!

Colored Tape Art-
Several weeks ago, the children worked with black electrical tape to create works of art inspired by Piet  Mondrian. This week, I stumbled upon this TERRIFIC colored tape dispenser filled with rolls of colored masking tape. I set out paper and the tape and the children created art filled with unique lines and designs.


  1. What great fun! We love trying to get things out of blocks of ice. Great warm weather outdoor play. And that gak looks awesome! Great post, as always!!
    Thanks for linking up to the outdoor play party.

  2. Great round up of ideas! Looks like fun ;-) Thank you for sharing your ideas with us on The Sunday Showcase

  3. I think I have never seen such blogs ever before that has complete things with all details which I want. So kindly update this ever for us.
    Go to Wocnadop Tastop

  4. I am truly appreciative to the owner of this website who has shared this nice article at this wonderful place.
    Full Lide Tienda Article

  5. I really love your write-ups guys continue the good work.
    web counter