Saturday, 26 March 2011

Importance of outdoor play

Playing outside is a really special thing.  Young children need to play outside and it's amazing how much they get out of it.  Being outdoors offers children opportunities they would never get inside.  They can be much free-er in their play by being noisy, messy, and having space to move in a different way.

We have been trying to improve the opportunities for play in our small garden for the last couple of weeks.  We wanted to give Boy and Girl more than just balls and skipping ropes.  Water and sand are an obvious choice for outdoor activities.  We have had a sand and water tray for a few years and so this has been cleaned up.
We have decided to use this just for water as it works much better than for sand which seems to block up the funnels!  Instead we have made our own sand tray using a fruit box we picked up for free at the local farm shop.  We've put a bin liner in the base to stop the sand escaping and then taped it down.  It works a treat!
Play sand can be bought from supermarkets quite cheaply and you can pretty much chuck in any plastic toys you happen to have or use things from the kitchen (spoons, jugs, cups etc).  You could go for more natural things like shells, pine cones, pebbles.  Get creative and go with your child's interest.
Girl really enjoyed playing with the sand for a while before lunch today.
Boy showed his sister how to make a sand castle and she was very interested in this idea.
Boy went inside to help make the lunch but Girl stayed playing with the sand for a while.
We have also set up a weather station where Boy can measure and record the weather each day.
We found this weather kit in Asda for £5.  It includes a thermometer, rain gauge and a weather diary sheet.
We got a wind sock as well for good measure.
I guess it's about making the most of the space you have outside.  Even if it's only a balcony or a small yard there is still quite a bit you can do.  We are adding a writing, drawing and painting area and I've begun planning some music making things too.  I'll take plenty of pictures when we've finished.

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