The Possibilities are Endless in the Outdoor Classroom

Friday, November 13, 2020
Building Cars in PreK
PreK-3 Students build a full-size vehicle, doing their work of creating, imagining, and sharing responsibilities

Outdoor play has been integral in the Preschool experience at Waterford each year, and this year, it's become even more important—not only are there endless developmentally appropriate ways of engagement and learning, but it's also a way to maintain distance, air flow and health during the Covid-19 pandemic. Waterford is lucky, by way of a generous anonymous donor, to have a nationally-recognized Outdoor Classroom where students can truly explore the magic and wonder of learning, growth and childhood. 

I asked our PreK teachers to highlight PreK and share how they are using the Outdoor Classroom this year, and the responses are wonderful:

Through the tunnel
PreK students going on a Bear Hunt after reading the beloved book

Miss. Suzanne, PreK-4

"We have used the outdoor classroom more than ever this year. We love starting our days outside. It's a great way for the children to settle in! "

Some of the activities our students have enjoyed this year include learning about position words in math, chipping dinosaurs out of ice eggs in science, literacy practice with a foam alphabet puzzle as well as lots of dramatic play—PreK students have imagined stores with cash registers, tea parties, fire engine rescues, super heroes, a bakery, a car wash...the list goes on and on!

We are so grateful to have such an incredible outdoor space! 

 

Miss. Erin, PreK-4:

Waterford Cafe in PreK
Students baking, and checking out customers in the Bakery named the Waterford Cafe

Miss. Kristie and Miss. Tracie and their PreK-3 students set up an amazing bread store. Josephine H. ’34 named it the Waterford Cafe. Our Preschool students have built out the whole business—complete with a bank, shopping, baking, and cash registers. Miss. Tracie also makes sure we have bubbles available each day - bubbles (especially bubbles created by themselves are a magical experience every time. 

And then there is "tunnel hill". We spend our mornings together by reading, drawing, and making paper airplanes on 'tunnel hill'. 

Recently, children did an impromptu play on tunnel hill!

And with the snow came sledding on tunnel hill!

The possibilities are endless!

Sledding on Tunnel Hill
Our recent snow storm turned "Tunnel Hill" into a coveted sledding location

 

Miss. Banks, PreK-4:

We have enjoyed so much of what has been shared already, and we also are able to enjoy our larger outdoor space with field trips all over our 41-acre campus. Outside, students can really practice and enjoy their large motor movement activities.

We continue to find new organized games that we can play with the new protocols, and I witness so many social, emotional, large motor, problem solving, friendship, sharing opportunities throughout our days together. We are, as teachers, and my students are so lucky to learn and enjoy this beautiful campus and amazing Outdoor Classroom. We begin our school day outside while the sun rises over the majestic Wasatch Mountains, not many children (or adults) can say they get to do that!

Painting in the Outdoor Classroom
Preschool artists in the Lower School take inspiration from the outdoors on easels placed around the Outdoor Classroom
 
Literacy in the Outdoor Classroom
Literacy and large motor skills - the beginnings of students learning to love learning. 
 
Outdoor Classroom
Students finding creative ways to Trick-or-treat during Outdoor play time