Outdoor play is an important aspect of our pre-k day. Next to play centers, our kids are always eager to go out to our playground to explore, , collaborate, create, imagine and play. I am always looking for ways to improve our outdoor space for our kids. Since our principal found another way to raise funds for our library system, I was able to use some of the $3,000 DonorsChoose gift card to use for our playground. Other items were funded from previous projects. This post details the different activities available to our students outside. If you have any cool ideas, please leave a comment on how we can make our outdoor space even more awesome for our kids.
Our dramatic play kitchen is open for every student in the school to play with. The original project was to get a new play kitchen for our classroom. After a mix up and receiving a Little Tikes plastic kitchen, I decided it would be more useful outdoors. It's a small area where kids can pretend to be chefs, home cooks, or restaurant owners. Nothing seems to be off limits. When it snows, I am offered some sort of fruit slushy. Some students gather rocks to add into the mixing pot and create some sort of stone soup. Dirt often finds its way into the kitchen and mud pie is the special for the day. The kitchen itself has taken a beating, but it's still intact and our students enjoy it very much.
One of the things I received on behalf of the Family and Friends Challenge are building blocks and storage for the blocks. Our school originally had waffle blocks but were never used because of lack of storage. New imagibricks were added into the mix and created a building area for our kids. First, our students weren't sure of what to do with the blocks. The experimental phase would consist of spreading the blocks apart in a neat and organized fashion. When their imagination comes into play, the blocks are stacked and the other toys are added in. Houses, kitchens, bridges, forts, anything is possible.
Sand and Water Table
Along with the blocks, another item received from the same project is our sand and water table. The table is stored in our garden, next to the bigger sandbox that our principal built over the summer. When it was first open, water and sand were nicely divided. After our pre-k kids got their hands on it, sand mixed with water and water mixed with sand. It was one big mess. The water would eventually be poured out so our kids can explore and create with the sand.
The jungle gym has been in our playground since the school opened. There are slides, monkey bars, tunnels, and other space for our kids to play tag, hang out, relax, and imagine. Since pre-k does not have recess the same time as the other students, they have more space to explore. During recess for kindergarten to third grade, the whole yard is packed with action. Balls flying, jump ropes swinging, hula hoops circling, kids running. Pre-K outdoor play is more relaxed and free from the dangers of giant third graders.
The dome is a new addition to our playground. The structure was purchased by our principal from Costco. Ms. Esther, her boyfriend Kevin, and I was left with the task of putting it together. Kevin did most of the work, but that didn't stop Esther and I from taking equal credit. The dome took three days to complete and multiple hours each day. Our first concern was kids injuring themselves on it, but after a few weeks of injury free play, our worries were behind us.
Many of the private schools I visit during professional development days have some sort of gross motor development vehicle. Whether they come in the form of bikes, scooters, or tricycles, these charge-an-arm-and-leg tuition schools have them for their kids and I want it for my students. When I visited Colombia during spring break, I saw pony cycles in a mall for kids to ride. I immediately thought of how my students could benefit from them. It helps them develop gross motor movement, exercise, and have fun. I created a project and funded most of my with the gift card myself. We received three pony cycles and the impact was immediate. Every child wanted to try them. A system was put in place and our kids learned to be patient and wait their turn. The pony cycles are only exclusive to the pre-k students due to size and weight capacity. I would love to get more of them for our students, but they are so expensive!
Super Hero Capes
Kids love super heroes. Why wait until Halloween to be one? All it really takes is a simple cape and imagination for endless fun! Last year, I went to Materials for the Arts with two other teachers to get a ton of random materials for our school. Fabric was one of those materials. After seeing another school create capes for their kids to use, I figured it was something simple and easy to create for our students to enjoy. Every kid wanted to try it, but it sticks to some more than others. I used old shirts and cut them into capes. I've posted the video tutorial I followed below.
Imagination Playground (Pending)
Imagination Playground is a new playground resource I hope to bring to my school. Imagination Playground is a mobile play system made up of big blue foam blocks in many unique shapes and sizes. The children are allowed to unleash their creativity. Whether they love trains, rocket ships, dinosaurs, or robots, if they have an idea, they can try to create it. Kids are allowed to build new things every time they interact with the Imagination Playground. I think kids everywhere can benefit greatly from these. I've created a GoFundMe project to help raise money for it. It's a long way from being funded, but I am hopeful. If you would like to help, feel free to donate and share the GoFundMe project!
Currently in my fifth year of teaching Pre-K at a early childhood elementary school.