When I think about my childhood and going to Kindergarten as a three and four-year-old I have fantastic memories of being outside. Learning through play and being outdoors is an invaluable experience for children within the early years and there are so many ways to engage children in this space.
Sitting with children and discussing their thoughts and ideas surrounding how to include outdoor experiences within their day can open up new opportunities and allow children to take responsibility for their own ideas. One great way I have seen this being developed is through vegetable patches in kindergarten settings. Working with children to discuss what veggies they would like to grow and how it should look creates a project that they can see develop and not only supports their learning but also leads to a delicious outcome when you can cook with what they have grown!
Another great way to engage children in outdoor experiences is through the use of natural resources. Not only are these largely free, they also often lead to much greater learning opportunities and play. Using natural materials such as sand and dirt engage children’s curiosity with the native environment. This can be implemented through the use of the timeless sandpit and tanbark through ideas such as playdough made with native scents and the use of large building resources such as rocks and wood for construction-based play.
Creating learning experiences for early years children in outdoor spaces doesn’t need to be large or overly complicated. Something as simple as children learning to write the alphabet in mud or sand with sticks can be a great learning tool for children as well as being a lot of fun!
From veggie gardens to just playing in the sand, outdoor learning experiences not only allow for learning through play, it engages a child’s imagination and autonomy in their own learning and development. So get creative and give it a go!