The outdoor environment provides the perfect opportunity for children to develop their large motor skills, such as running, jumping and skipping, but it also has lots of other learning potential. During the day when continuous provision is available, children are free to choose to play outside or inside. The outdoor classroom provides many of the same opportunities as indoors. We have a writing area, maths area, reading area, construction, water area, role play area and music area.
In the role play area children are encouraged to develop their imaginative skills. They are provided with resources that allow them to pretend and act out the roles of others. The theme of this area is changed each half term to enhance the topic and maintain interest. As children play together they, develop social skills and learn how to co-operate with others.
In the writing area, children are provided with a range of resources to encourage writing, such as pencils, felt tip pens and crayons. They are encouraged to write for different purposes: lists, letters and invitations. Children's first attempts at writing may not be legible but this is how they first demonstrate an understanding of the difference between pictures and words. With praise and encouragement children become confident to make further attempts at writing. Vocabulary to support reading and writing is displayed around the classroom. This includes letters of the alphabet, days of the week and months of the year.
The resources provided in the maths area develop the children's knowledge and understanding about number recognition, number sequence and counting. Their knowledge of shape and pattern is developed through activities such as threading and peg boards. There are lots of opportunities for children to play games and learn in a fun way. Resources used by teachers during focus activities are left out the following week to give children an opportunity to consolidate and extend their learning.
In the reading area children are provided with a wide range of books. Books help children to understand the difference between pictures and words and to know that print carries meaning. Once children are confident with letter sounds they can start to blend sounds together to read words. Through reading books and listening to stories children learn about characters, settings and story structure. Non-fiction books provide children with knowledge and understanding and information related to their interests. In addition to books we have a storyboard where children can use pictures to retell stories in their own words. This helps them to put stories into the correct sequence. The listening area allows children to listen to stories and hear expressive language being modeled to enhance the story.
Children are encouraged to develop their tactile skills in this area. We usually provide playdough which helps children to develop rolling, stretching, squeezing and moulding. Children often model activities they have seen at home in this area. They enjoy making chapattis and cakes and share into halves and quarters. These activities help children to develop maths skills. Children have the opportunity to work with clay, to compare the texture with playdough and how it can be manipulated. With adult support they are encouraged to talk about their actions and use descriptive vocabulary to develop their speaking and listening skills.
By providing basic resources such as paint, collage and junk modelling materials, children are encouraged to use their imaginative and creative skills. They learn about the consistency of paint - how it runs down the paper at the easel but not if they paint at the table. We provide opportunities for the children to mix their own paint so they can experiment with different consistencies themselves and observe colour change. The use of junk modelling helps children develop mathematical skills, such as 3D shape and estimation and measuring. Design technology skills are developed through experimenting with different joining and fastening techniques. We regularly enhance this area by providing activities such as leaf printing and marble rolling.
Children are naturally curious and the investigation area provides them with the opportunity to explore and investigate. They are encouraged to use all their senses to find out about things. This helps them to build a greater knowledge and understanding of materials and processes and learn how things work. Children are given support to discuss what they have discovered and are encouraged to make links with other related experiences.
Through the use of construction equipment children can experiment with different ways of joining. Children learn to evaluate their own models and develop their ideas, making changes to them such as making their structures stronger. Mathematical skills such as 3D shape, spatial awareness, length and height are developed. Children often play imaginatively with their models and this can involve other children, developing co-operation and social skills.
In the water area children learn about capacity by filling and emptying containers. With the support of adults they can be introduced to vocabulary such as full, empty, half full, half empty and overflowing. Being introduced to this vocabulary while exploring the concept first hand helps the children to understand and remember. They can also develop their imaginative skills through the provision of animals, such as fish and other sea creatures. We regularly enhance the water by changing the colour of the water or adding glitter.
Through filling and emptying containers children learn about capacity and weight. With the support of adults they can be introduced to vocabulary such as full, empty, half full, half empty, heavy, heavier, heaviest, light, lighter and lightest. Being introduced to this vocabulary while exploring the concept first hand helps the children to understand and remember. The children are offered opportunities to work with wet or dry sand to compare the different textures and investigate what they can do with it. Children can make tracks and patterns with cars and trucks. Imaginative play is encouraged by providing children with resources such as people and animals.