On October 23rd, 2014, we updated our
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The outdoor environment provides optimal conditions for physically active play.
The potential of outdoor spaces is enhanced by natural elements.
Outdoor play space should be an extension of the indoor play environment.
Natural Play Spaces
“ Children desperately need to be able to play in the woods. Our culture's sterile rejection of nature is harming them in body and soul.”
Louv, Richard. (2005). Last Child in the Woods.
Chapel Hill, North Carolina: Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill.
“ Natural things have three qualities that are unique: their unending diversity, the fact that they are not created by people, and their feeling of timelessness...these qualities would seem to show children a different reality...”
Prescott, E. (1987). The environment as organizer of intent in childcare settings. Spaces for children: The built environment and child development . New York: Plenum Press.
Diverse Natural Environments Encourage Physical Play
“ Natural environments represent dynamic and rough playscapes that challenge motor activity in children. The topography, like slopes and rocks, afford natural obstacles that children have to cope with. The vegetation provides shelters and trees for climbing. The meadows are for running and tumbling.”
Fjortoft, I & Sageie, J. The Natural Environment as a Playground for Children. Norway: Telemark University College.
Physically Active Play Outdoors
Physically active play is facilitated by outdoor environments that include:
Flexible play structures
Flexible Play Materials and Loose Parts
“ The effective use of any play space depends on the choice and display of the play structures, materials and equipment.”
Dietze, B. & Crossley, B (2006).
A Word about Inclusive Practice
Inclusive Practice requires:
Guidelines for Inclusive Play Environments
Examine the physical space available to see how all children can use it best. What is required to ensure effective mobility?
Plan and implement experiences based on observation of children’s physical skills
Examine the direction and sequence of play experiences. Acknowledge current physical skills and plan for the next level of experiences.
Consider individual learning styles - what materials will promote active physical play and support self-initiated and peer play.
Managing Playtime Risk
“ While child care practitioners take into account parent’s concerns for their children’s safety during active and outdoor play, they also realize that children need to experience risk to develop a feeling of competence and accomplishment.”
Dietze, B. & Crossley, B (2006). Resource Sheet # 79b Managing Playtime Risk .. Ottawa: Canadian Child Care Federation.
“ Children depend on adults who support their need for exuberant play and who value and understand the intricacies of such play”
Dietze, B. & Crossley, B (2006). Resource Sheet #79d: Outdoor Play Environments . Ottawa: Canadian Child Care Federation.
Provide a variety of materials for children to use outdoors
Role model active play outdoors
Ensure that all children have opportunities for physical play outdoors
Observe and evaluate children’s use of the environment; make continuous improvements
Manage safe risks
Advocate for greater access to natural environments in neighborhoods
Debrief What do we know about…
the potential of the outdoor environment to stimulate physically active play?
the importance of natural elements, flexible play structures and loose play materials in outdoor play spaces?
the role of the practitioner in ensuring appropriate physical activity experiences in the outdoor play space?
the value of risk taking in outdoor play spaces?
Playing freely in natural outdoor play areas allows children to make their own rules, have their own thoughts and experiences and come to their own conclusions - all at their own pace. Reflect on the following:
Children’s opportunities to play outdoors should be…
Extending indoor learning to outdoor play spaces is a best practice because…