Chapter 2 – What are some of the options for outdoor learning?
The term ‘outdoor learning’ encompasses a range of different opportunities. Outdoor learning can take place in a small back yard of a kindergarten setting, or it may be in a slightly larger garden space. If you decide to leave the confines of the kindergarten and take the group on an outing away from your everyday setting, the options get even more exciting. A day visit could encompass a visit to a farm, a nature reserve, a local park, a woodland or the seaside. All of these offer their own unique learning opportunities.
A kindergarten garden can be a fantastic way of engaging children with the outside world. The garden can be as small or as big as you feel is manageable or as your budget and time allows. The fact that the outdoor space is in the kindergarten grounds means that you can access it whenever you wish or whenever you feel it will benefit the children. Another benefit is the proximity to your indoor space. This means that if the weather takes a turn for the worst you can always retreat inside. It also means that you are able to take an outdoor experience from outside and follow them up inside. For example, a moment spent smelling and touching flowers can be followed up inside with a painting session.
Nearly all children love a farm visit – especially when it involves a visit to see the baby lambs, calves or chickens! Some children may never have been out of the city before, so this is a great opportunity to take the children on an exciting adventure to experience something new. These new experiences can be explored by discussing the sights, smells and sounds of the farm. For those inner-city kindergartens which may struggle to access cheap transport options, a visit to a city farm, allotment or community growing area can also provide an excellent learning experience.
Similar to a farm visit, nature reserves provide a great opportunity to engage children with the outside world. A lot of organisations that manage nature reserves have specific education programmes, so it may be worth speaking to them before to see what activities they can offer to your group.