Most of us built dens as children it is often one of the most evocative elements of play to re-visit as an adult and remember how important it was. This session will focus on both 'deconstructing' the den-building process – ie what needs to be provided in terms of space, structure, coverings, fixings and furnishings in order that children can easily be involved in creating their own special places outside. It will also highlight the important learning that can take place both in the construction process and how to value the play that follows.
Children love to create their own 'worlds' – these may be real or imaginary and are often in miniature. Using these creations they may then act out an extraordinary range of complex interactions, emotions and schema which are fascinating to observe. In order to facilitate this kind of play, a wide range of environments and a set of open-ended 'loose part' materials is recommended so that the child can select places and objects and use them as they deem appropriate. This session will offer a chance to explore this particular kind of play by demonstrating how open-ended flexible environments can be offered as well as objects and materials that are suitable for outside use. It will also show how stories and ideas naturally develop and complement these creations – allowing children to become more self-motivated learners.
Children love to be 'in charge' of their play environments. It is therefore important that they are physically able to interact with it and change it whilst developing both their fine manipulative and gross motor skills. This means providing resources that allows them to push and pull, turn and twist, fix and connect, balance and bend. Resources need to be light but strong and suitably durable for ongoing outside use (and abuse!). This session will offer ideas for using these simple open-ended resources and key landscape elements to allow children to explore this world of movement and forces in a way that is fun as well as creative. Children usually invent their own challenges, but ideas are offered to channel particular learning outcomes if that is desired. The problem solving opportunities are surprisingly wide and challenging - even for adults!
Water play environments can appear in many forms – from rain puddles and channels to hosepipes and ponds. Children are strongly drawn to water and will use it in their play endlessly if given the chance. This session will look at the many ways water play can be usefully, practically and safely provided in a setting so that children will get the widest range of play from it. A range of resources for water play will be experimented with (including additional materials such as sand, soil and plant material) and situations for providing both still and moving water features will be explored.
Art outside can be so much bigger and messier than indoors. As well as the more usual 'art' materials, use can also be made of the natural elements that are (hopefully) freely and abundantly available outdoors – water, soil, sand, stones and plant material (grass, flowers, leaves and woody material). The structural environment - both built and natural - can also be used to great effect. This session will encourage a free exploration of these materials and outdoor environments to make wonderful individual and collective artworks that will not only look fantastic but will also boost self esteem on many levels.
Making muddy concoctions is a highly satisfying experience on many levels – it offers an opportunity to develop both gross and fine motor skills to a high level through digging, mixing, squeezing and squashing, forming and decorating. To provide this in a setting you need facilities - resources and environment - that will be easily accessed by the children and also the opportunity to clean up afterwards! This session will allow a variety of mud-related activities to be explored in and around a 'mud kitchen' environment - using different soil and water mixes, tools, containers and methods of display. Washing and cleaning facilities will also be discussed. The value of children (and adults) being involved in this kind of very basic activity cannot be underestimated and the very important learning and developmental experiences that come from it will be discussed.
As they discover the world around them, many children exhibit repetitive patterns of behaviour known as 'schemas'. These are many and varied - for example a fascination with rotational or trajectory motion or the way things connect together. The outdoor environment can be an excellent (and often, the most appropriate) place in which to enable the child to explore their particular schema in as many ways as they can. This session will look at a variety of common schematic behaviours and offer a chance to try out ways of facilitating these using open ended resources and flexible environments.
The art of growing plants is often a slow and painstaking process which isn't 'immediate' enough for young children's interest to be maintained for long. 'Gardening' however involves many interactive and sensory activities - digging and mixing soil, watering, sorting and gathering seed, making compost - which they love and can be involved with on a level that enables them to be connected with the natural world in a meaningful way. This session will explore the different ways children can be involved in gardening in an early years setting – however small and even if there isn't any ground to do it in!
N.B. available in the second part of summer term only
Childhood memories of making daisy chains, rose petal perfume or simply chewing a blade of grass are special to many of us. Yet plants are often seen as so 'precious' in a landscaped setting that children are told off for picking anything. Although children need to be taught that certain plants should be left alone and respected, there is still an enormous 'palate' of plants that are robust enough to be used for play in an early years setting.
This session will explore the range of wonderful activities that can be available to children if the plants in their setting are deliberately chosen to be picked and used in their play. Simple recipes for cooking what has been grown with children will also be demonstrated (and sampled if timing allows).
"Today has been very inspiring – it provided lots of ideas for activities to try. If you can't see how it'll work for your school you don't use it – but today we could."
- Y2 Teacher
"A very useful day and I now feel more able to have a go. I can see more opportunities to develop children's learning now. Really good. Thank you."
- Y1 Teacher