Learning through play: outdoors

Eco Schools

Caring for our environment is very important to us at Stanwell and in April 2014, we were delighted to achieve our second  Green Flag. For this we learned about keeping healthy, reducing litter, food and the environment, caring for our garden and recycling waste. We held an eco week, a health week and an international week, and managed to grow a wide range of fruit and vegetables in our garden.

Loose Parts

Our approach to outdoor play has changed! In 1972, the architect Simon Nicolson discovered that ‘In any environment, both the degree of inventiveness and creativity, and the possibility of discovery, are directly proportional to the number and kind of variables in it’. In other words, the more ‘stuff’ lying about, the more creative the children’s play will be! By ‘stuff’ he meant material such as twigs, sticks, leaves, gravel, mud, sand, pine cones, flowers, puddles, shells…….. things which don’t have a specific use, but can be used by the children in a variety of ways.

We have certainly found this to be true – since introducing loose parts, the children have been much more settled outdoors, and their play is much more creative and imaginative. They are also developing a wider range of skills than they would be playing more more limited plastic toys. Its more work for the staff – the ‘stuff’ gets everywhere, and there’s a lot of clearing up to do! – but its value for the children’s learning is huge.

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