Urban Outdoor Adventures

Outdoor play spaces and activities offer a wealth of learning opportunities for young children.

As adults, many of our most memorable childhood moments are of playing outside with our friends. Outdoor learning supports diversity in a child’s play and contributes to learning in all developmental areas.

Most young children enjoy lots of outdoor time with their families. Outdoor play in a group setting provides an abundance of new and shared learning opportunities. Our first goal is to ensure safety. Children are taught about boundaries, staying together, appropriate risk taking, dressing for the weather and the proper use of climbing structures and other equipment. As the older children and their class make their way into natural areas or forested settings they are taught how to enjoy nature in safe and meaningful ways. Teachers regularly inspect all play areas to ensure safety.

Teachers first introduce children to the outdoor play areas at the Preschool. In this environment children feel safe and in control. Their sense of adventure and their free spirit emerge. In addition to the pure physical joy of running, jumping and climbing with a group of peers lots of other subtle learning is taking place. Children are developing spatial awareness, listening skills, turn taking, awareness of social customs, cooperation, enrichment of language and vocabulary, problem solving, the understanding of rules and why they are necessary, respect for others and the enhancement of self-esteem.

Young learners love being outside in all kinds of weather. Jumping in puddles, setting up mud kitchens, mixing, measuring, weighing, patterning, collecting, sorting, dividing and sharing are all examples of math, science, socials and other curriculum studies at work in children’s play.

As children gain confidence and knowledge in outdoor learning their interests change and lead to the need for more complex and challenging opportunities. Great ideas emerge when tools and props like ropes, tarps, magnifying glasses, measuring tapes, flashlights, tweezers, clipboards, cameras and print materials are introduced.

The four year old children take regular trips to Pacific Spirit Park to expand on the learning that we have been doing at the Preschool. Children plan, create, and strategize as they climb over mossy stumps, collect branches to build dams or discover skunk cabbage for the first time! They measure trees, estimate the depth of puddles, create maps and draw with charcoal found in burnt out logs.

Whether it’s a tea party in an enchanted forest or a story told around an old tree stump the best place to learn is where you are having fun, feel safe and are surrounded by friends.