Sharing our Outdoor Classroom!

Oh, the outdoors! There is no place many of us would rather be on a bright summer day. The air is warm, everything is lush and green, robins hop around here and there. The backyard is beautiful and full of possibility- each person comes to it with different needs, interests, and proclivities. Maybe I love to play in the dirt, digging for hours and making up stories as I do so, while someone a little older than me loves to perch high up in the play structure, joking with friends. Someone else loves to sit quietly with a book on a mat in some shade, while a whole pack of others cover the entire place in their game, running constantly between bases. The outdoor environment is extremely valuable because it offers so many opportunities for play, movement, learning, connection to nature, observation, and experimentation. With that, I would like to introduce a few of the features that make up the outdoor space at the Co-op.

As I mentioned in the last post, the outdoor environment is intended to be an extension of the indoor classroom for the children. As such, the outdoor works are organized on shelves that are placed outside each day. The works on the shelves provide options for children wishing to do more individual or small group work.
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Children can choose between different stations, such as drawing, water play, potting plants (practice), reading with a group, and painting.
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There is always the option to care for the environment. Children are encouraged to choose a cleaning or beautification chore to do outside each day before choosing another activity. Upkeep of the gardens is a popular choice, as is picking up litter, and sweeping. These acts of stewardship give the children opportunities to care for their school.

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The children really enjoy our gardens, pumpkin patch, the Mulberry tree, and the sunflower ring! We value caring for plants, growing vegetables, and enjoying the fruits (and shade!) of our outdoor space. Connecting our children to the growing things around us helps them to understand the natural processes that make our world go around!

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Our efforts to enhance the outdoor space through enriching it with opportunities have had a calming effect overall. The many features allow children to find what it is that they really want to do, and to follow their own interests. Next week I will take you all on a hike of our forested trail!

-Teal Gardner

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