Open the door and turn your learning environment inside out. Maximize outdoor play by moving learning centers outdoors, opening up new possibilities for stimulating children’s creativity, self-discovery, and imagination. Children can do virtually anything outside that they can do inside—the sky’s the limit! By providing outdoor learning centers, teachers can change materials and props depending on the interests and ideas that emerge from the children. Whether you have green space or not, here are some ideas of what centers you might include in your outdoor learning environment.
Science & Nature Center
Science comes alive as children explore nature and make first-hand observations. Provide containers which children can use to collect their findings (i.e., leaves, sticks, rocks, mud) and a table where they can explore the items with all their senses. (Provide tools for investigations: magnifying glasses, binoculars, bug jars, tweezers, rulers).
Sand & Water Center
Not every outdoor environment can have a sandbox but they can easily accommodate a sand and water table. This learning center is the best place for messy play as it is suitable for many sensory experiences. Sand and water equal math and science learning! They alone or together provide opportunities for endless experimenting.
Dramatic Play Center
Set the stage to inspire children’s imagination through dramatic play outside. Dramatic play allows children to make sense of the adult world in a child-friendly setting. It also develops necessary skills in cooperation, language, role-plays, and leadership. Put an outdoor kitchen near the sand area and discover “what’s cooking.” All that “good food” needs to be eaten. An outdoor picnic table just their size makes for family-style dining.
Children who may not participate in art experiences indoors may join in willingly when art is presented in the familiar and comfortable territory of the outdoors. An easel (free standing or hanging easel) is a must to include. If no easel, a wall, chain-link or wood fence and butcher paper provides many opportunities for children to work on vertical surfaces.
Take block play to new heights by moving them outside. Many engineering feats are possible with block play. The block construction area encourages language, social engagement, cooperation, problem-solving, creativity, imagination, and self-esteem. It can be taxing transporting those wooden indoor blocks outdoors. Foam blocks designed to look just like real cinder blocks, bricks, planks, and concrete pavers are lightweight. Plan for them to have their own “home” outside, thus being available and accessible to the children. Children enjoy having accessories to use with block play. Small cars, trucks, animals, people extend children’s ideas.
I’m not finished yet! Having been an Outdoor Teacher for 12 years, I’m looking forward to sharing a few more learning centers and many activities that you can include in your outdoor classroom. The sky’s the limit!
- OUTSCI (Outdoor Learning Kit Science)
- SENMIX (Outdoor Sensory Mixing Table)
- OBSERVE (Nature Observation Set – 24 Pieces)
- TOOLCHST (Science Exploration Kit – 72 Pieces)
- XCSG60120 (Sandbox with Cover—5’ x 10’ x 10”)
- SCLEAR (Sand and Water Activity Table)
- MPC3006 (MyPerfectClassroom Double Sand and Water Table)
- PLAYSAND (Sandtastik White Play Sand 25 lbs.)
- OUTKIT (Outdoor Kitchen Set)
- PICTAB (Outdoor Picnic Table)
- MOBEASEL (Colorations Premium Mobile Storage Easel)
- HDE (Hanging Easel)
- 4018 (Butcher Roll—White, 18” Wide, 40 LB.)
- ALLBUILD (Excellerations Jumbo Foam Construction Set)
- OUTBLOCK (Outdoor Learning Kit Blocks)
- PEEPSET (Excellerations Photo Block Play People)
To order any of the products listed above or to view our wide array of products, please visit our website at discountschoolsupply.com or contact our customer service department at 800-627-2829.