Tommaso Lana, Education Consultant, Teacher Trainer, "Embodied Learning" Advocate
It's spring, and your 4, 7 and 9 years old children are the perfect team to build their simple, zero budget and very effective outdoor playground. The goal is to foster creativity and social-emotional skills through motion & sensory perception and enjoy daylight exposure.
How about playing The Outline?
You just need some rocks, but you can also use rolled up bags, socks or paper to give your children an opportunity to compare natural shapes with their own shape. Feeling comfortable in space is something children need to experience starting with their own proprioception. Learning in outdoor spaces allows them to explore how their body feels comfortable in relation to the earth and gravity.
They could also play Laundry!
Your own childhood memories play a crucial role in designing the Laundry. Do you remember the fresh smell of clean laundry hung up to dry in the backyard or garden? Do you remember the sensation of the washing brushing against your skin as you walked through? Wasn’t it just wonderful and tempting to play among these clothes lines? And wasn’t it a shame that your parents wouldn’t allow it? Can you recall the stories, adventures and playful ideas that were born in this laundry landscape? What you need is a rope and some old bed sheets. Your children will enjoy discovering the benefits of slowing down and relax.
This is my favorite, The Humming Bucket!
Remember Peek-a-boo? While the goal here is not to help kids grasp the concept of object permanence, the Humming Bucket does make use of the psychomotor basics of that game, alternating light and darkness, sight and invisibility, and presence and absence. Here’s how it works: a child starts out by observing a bucket sitting on a tree stump outside in the daylight. She then puts her head inside the bucket and begins humming or buzzing to herself, experimenting with her auditory perception and feeling her body’s vibrations. She might choose to close her eyes to “look at” or simply concentrate on herself. Afterwards she will experience the joy of “resurfacing” into the daylight. The “humming bucket” construction can also be used to improve children’s communication and language skills, and to help them find their way to resilience. All you need is a plastic bucket (or a large vase or soup pot) and a tree stump!
If you're interested in more suggestions, ideas and pedagogical explanations you can read Rediscovering Time Under the Open Sky and Why Children Need to Be Taught Outdoors and How to Do It. Have fun!