Our outside play philosophy and area has become a huge talking point amongst parents since we opened. It is an area which has been built, extended and improved upon massively. Most importantly it’s a huge talking point for the children who have been little designers and influenced each decision we made. I am convinced we have some budding architects on our hands and I must say they did a better job than I could have done (phew)!
Our area started off pretty small, I can remember being really disappointed when we first opened – but actually looking back it has really worked in our favor as we have been able to carefully observe and ask the children how they would like the play space to look. When we extended our outside area the children designed their own drawings of what they wanted – amongst the designs were a roller coaster (Harry 3:4) a garden area (Ben 3:5) a magical unicorn (Jodie 2:9) a sand pit (William 2:11) and a shelter for when it rains (Toby 2:10).
Of course we would have liked to have opted for the roller coaster and unicorn – but health and safety legislation got in our way!
I took the children’s designs and comments to our planning meetings. For example, Toby (2:10) had specifically said that the shelter would be best placed outside the back door so no water could get through! And William (2:11) wanted a rectangle sand pit which was very deep for treasure. After a few months the outside area was complete with a new shelter, sand pit and garden area.
But the love for voicing options and seeing their ideas come to life was going to be an inherent thread which has not left us since. The outside area continues to develop alongside the children and changes are made regularly to ensure we are supporting their current learning needs.
Our outside area has been recognised by professionals during inspections:
“The children were highly engaged in the outdoor play experiences and most chose to take their snack outside in order to continue with their play. The child’s voice was respected and used to inform the design of the new outdoor environment. Waterproof suits and boots allow children to access the area in most weathers and the staff have a real passion for outdoor learning and enjoy being outside as much as the children.”