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Outdoor opportunitiesWhile we may picture the indoor classroom or program space when we think about environments for learning, it is important to pay equal attention to the outdoor environment and the rich opportunities it provides for learning and development. Indoors or out, a play space should provide multi-sensory experiences, provocations to explore, meaningful opportunities to use a wide variety of interesting materials and tools, time and spaces to practice and develop skills – both individually and with other children and adults.
In the first video, Sheila Williams-Ridge, from the Shirley G. Moore Laboratory School at the University of Minnesota, discusses the unique opportunities of the outdoors. You will see a variety of images from their outdoor environment and hear her describe how children may react differently in outdoor spaces compared to indoor classrooms. The second video shows children enjoying a variety of outdoor activities on a cold winter day. It was filmed in Winnipeg, Manitoba at Seven Oaks Child Day Care Centre and at Discovery Children’s Centre, which offers a Field and Forest Nature School, for three- and four-year-old children, using the outdoors as the classroom for many hours each day. The third video, filmed in Tanzania, shows children playing in a variety of outdoor areas, with different types of materials.
How do different climate, geographical, and community factors affect the implementation of outdoor programming? What is happening in your community? What other opportunities could there be?