Outdoor Play with Sam Goldworthy
Do you take your wooden toys outside to explore and play with?
We do, we always have a basket of toys with us or we use them to set up simple invitations to explore.
Our children have taken keen interest in learning their phonics and spotting them as well as their name in the nature, we find the natural world enhances children’s desire to learn. Taking this into consideration we decided to wrap up our Hellion letters using white paper and tape. We popped them in a basket, placing this in out outdoor environment for the children to ‘find’.
‘Gasps’ ‘ excitement’
‘Oh my what are these?’
‘What’s inside the paper?’
‘Lets work together to open them’
‘What’s inside do you think?’
The children worked together to investigate the basket further. Each child chose a letter and included the younger children of the setting too by handing them out to them. They used their finer motor skills to unwrap each present and were over joyed to to find ‘my phonics’ which they could successfully identify and sound out the letters phonetically as well as CVC words.
This phonics set up engaged all six children aged 1-4 years for about 25 minutes. It was rich and full of learning opportunities for all the ages; strengthening hand and finger muscles as they unwrapped the paper and tape. As well as literacy it facilitated for mathematical opportunities such as developing number sense as the children counted the cubes, stacked them in towers, estimated how many parcels are in the basket and then checked their guesses by counting them.
Phonics doesn’t have to always be learnt guided sat at a table. It can be instilled outdoors in nature through a hands on approach which in most cases is far more enriching and stimulating to children’s learning. Outdoor learning has so many benefits for children’s development such as improving their own self confidence, sense of self, independence, decision making and problem solving skills. We found that all the children including boys were so much more involved in learning through the outdoors; as long as you set up provocations depending on their interests. Being outdoors provides the children a calm play space – a classroom with no walls to bounce off.
In our experience we have set up pretty little invitations that we have seen on the internet and our children have blatantly not been interested in it. The set up or invitation needs to be based on your child’s interests and also incorporating their next step. So our phonics basket was primarily for the children who are starting to recognise phonics to strengthen their knowledge with some added excitement and magic.
Also don’t be disheartened if they don’t spend hours exploring that’s ok, leave it out as you will find that they will revisit it time and time again extending their learning further each time.
So when you head out next time whether it be woods, beach or your garden what are you going to take with you?