For many teachers recess/outdoor play is considered a break from teaching. This is an important time to interact with the children to mentor physical activity and build relationships in a relaxed environment. It is not a time to chat with other teachers, check a cell phone, or sit on a bench.
Too many playgrounds are grossly inadequate with little to do but stand around, or climb on a single stationary climbing structure. Children need natural as well as manufactured materials and equipment. Two impediments to creating an outdoor classroom experience is dry, organized storage, and the ability of teachers to re-stack, sort and maintain the play area. Outdoor learning areas should be in place year round, with materials added as needed.
An outdoor experience needs large areas to run, and smaller areas for rest or quieter activities. It needs places for children to sit and covered areas for inclement weather. The natural playground would include elements such as trees, vegetation, stone, wood, and materials that can be manipulated. These materials might include log pieces, small decks with building materials, stone paths, discovering sand pits and sound walls.
Video: Our Natural Playground and Garden. Source: Stonebrook Day School 2.32 minutes
Stonebrook's natural playscape includes an actual stone brook, trike path and garage, stage, tree stump benches, garden classroom, foot bridge, music and art space, sand bunker, labyrinth, a wood play house and store, a mound with built in slide and tunnel, picnic area, plus lots of grass, plants and trees!
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