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, January 18, 2012

Dramatic Play Outdoors - Air Traffic Control

Our Jr. Kindergarten class is currently VERY interested in making paper airplanes. We can barely keep our writing center stocked with enough paper to keep up their airplane making endeavors! Since we run on an "emergent" curriculum, I decided to support their interests with an "Air Traffic Control" dramatic play center....and what fun it has been!

The idea was for the children to pretend they are controlling the airport activities, so I set out earphones, walkie-talkies, old phones, keyboards and some old laptops.

I also made an air traffic control wand out of colored tape wrapped on PVC so the children could direct the planes. And of course, I set out an entire bin of sturdy paper airplanes. On the ground, I designed a numbered runway out of colored tape. The numbers were so the children could measure how far their plane flew.

To incorporate math and literacy, I made a chart for children to write down their names and the distance their plane flew. Clipboards made this activity even more appealing.

As another added component to spark literacy, I posted photos with sentences about airports, maps, and photos of tickets and passports. I also posted some idea started and songs for the teachers to use to engage and spark interest. In the writing center, we stocked the bins with paper to make passports, tickets, airplanes, and anything else the children could think of!

Next week, we plan to transform this area into a passenger airport. To prepare, the children are painting a large box (to be made into a plane), and I've laminated some printed airline tickets and passports for the children to use on their voyage. I'll also add some old luggage, chairs for the plane, and ??? Any ideas????

 Check back next week for more photos of our airport!


  1. I'm very jealous of your outdoor classroom, it's beautiful. At my centre we have a small outdoor area with a climber and shed. We can't have anything pretty out because it will get stolen, over the Christmas holidays some people got into our area and broke down our porch to the shed. It's really very sad that people would do this to a childs play area.

  2. Livelifehappy...I am so sorry to hear about the theft at your centre. You are right - it is incredulous that some people would feel the need to break into and dammage a preschool!
    Remember - even small outdoor spaces can be made into inspiring spaces. If even you just set out a few labeled crates filled with sensory experiences (play dough, gak, etc), varied dramatic play items, and sand toys. Crates are so versatile and can easily be brought back inside at the end of the day. Good luck!

  3. Hope things will fall in its proper places and kids will enjoyed their activities with out any bad thing happen. Thank you for sharing.

    Charles|outdoor activities  philippines