Quality Outdoor Play Environments

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Text of Quality Outdoor Play Environments

  • 1. Quality Outdoor Play Environments

2. Principles of Participation

  • Protect the confidentiality of current and former child care families, colleagues and fellow participants.
  • Be part of a safe environment: be non-judgmental; do not interrupt; be accepting of the ideas of others (even if you dont agree); dont dominate discussions; give everyone the opportunity to talk.
  • Arrive on time, return from breaks on time and stay until the workshop is over.
  • Provide support and encouragement to others.

3. Workshop Outcomes

  • Participants will be able to:
    • Explain the importance of natural elements in an outdoor learning environment
    • Outline the value of flexible play structures and loose parts in facilitating inclusive physical activity in outdoor play environments
    • Describe the role of the practitioner in planning and implementing physical activity experiences in the outdoor play space
    • Describe the value of risk in physically active outdoor play

4. Outdoor Play Environments

  • 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.

5. 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.

6. 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.

7. Physically Active Play Outdoors

  • Physically active play is facilitated by outdoor environments that include:
  • Natural elements
  • Loose parts
  • Flexible play structures
  • Enthusiastic adults

8. 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).

9. A Word aboutInclusive Practice

  • Inclusive Practice requires:
    • Awareness
    • Flexibility
    • Innovation
    • Imagination
    • Patience
    • Communication
    • Common Sense

10. 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 childrens 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.

11. Managing Playtime Risk

  • While child care practitioners take into account parents concerns for their childrens 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.

12. Practitioners Role

  • 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.

13. Practitioners Role

  • 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 childrens use of the environment; make continuous improvements
  • Manage safe risks
  • Advocate for greater access to natural environments in neighborhoods

14. 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?

15. Self-Reflective Experience

  • 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:
  • Childrens opportunities to play outdoors should be
  • Extending indoor learning to outdoor play spaces is a best practice because