Outdoor Space Enhances Preschool Play
New Outdoor Learning Space for Preschool and Kindergarten students
We have been working closely with our preschool faculty and landscaping crew to create an outdoor play space for our Preschool and Kindergarten students. Special thanks to Kristie Rasmussen (Preschool), Susan Johnsen (LS Director), and to the two generous LS families who made phase one of this beautiful, new learning space possible. (Photos by Heather Mortenson)
Specific Goals & Objectives
Our goal for the Outdoor Classroom is to enhance the full range of whole-child development domains for all children. Engagement in creative self-initiated play with natural elements will facilitate a strong connection with the earth and provide opportunities for collaborative relationships. Following a sense of curiosity, children will make first-hand observations developing sensory awareness through investigation and experimentation. Sharing precious moments of awe and wonder with teachers and peers, children will accumulate positive feelings about being in nature and develop knowledge and skills about interacting with nature.
1. Social, Emotional, & Work Habits: As students purposely and intentionally work with materials, they will increase awareness and confidence in self-directed inquiry. As they become aware of themselves as part of community with both privileges and responsibilities to enjoy this outdoor classroom, and the carefully labeled areas of interest, they will have opportunities to take care of learning tools and materials, show respect for living things, and consider the feelings of others by helping, taking turns, and collaborating and sharing during playtime.
2. Language, Literacy & Executive Function: Children will make choices among labeled areas of the outdoor classroom and verbalize plans for where they’d like to play. Opportunities for writing labels, sign making, as well as observational drawing will be available. They will have opportunities to dictate stories about their adventures in the outdoor classroom. Children will enjoy imaginative play and even child-directed productions.
3. Sensory-Motor Stimulation: Students will test and hone physical skills like balancing as they walk across a log, climb on rocks, and carry containers of water to other areas of the play space. Students will develop their motor skills by building with our new outdoor block set and tree cookies, gathering treasure, and experiencing the touch and smell of the many new plants in our outdoor learning area.
4. Science Exploration: The natural world is a powerful stimulus to observation. As students investigate the properties of plants, earth, and critters, they will enjoy hands-on exploration and observation with many opportunities to design their own experiments with water, sand, rocks, soil, nuts, shells, and inclines and ramps.