Creating Engaging Outdoor Spaces for Children

C1As a Registered Early Childhood Educator (RECE), I believe that outdoor play is essential to children. I strive to take the children outside on a daily basis throughout the changing seasons.  Depending on the weather, it can be challenging to keep the children engaged in play. Here are three strategies that I have found helpful to keep the children involved in their time spent outdoors:

1. Interest-Based Activities – Provide children with activities that are of interest to them. Be attentive to the conversations that are happening in the program to further their play based on their changing interests.

2. Provide open-ended material – Think about the purpose of the materials that are being set out and ensure that the materials can be used in a variety of ways. Providing these open-ended materials allows the children to adapt their play and encourages the use of their imagination.

3. Get involved! – The best way to get children engaged in an activity is to participate with them. I model for the children the different ways in which the materials can be used, encouraging them to play.

C2Some activities that the children enjoy through the change of seasons are:

  • Scavenger hunt – Go on a leaf, pinecone, caterpillar or animal print scavenger hunt. After the scavenger hunt, allow time for the children to share what they have found.
  • Cooking – “Cook” with sand, snow or other natural materials. Simply provide pots and pans and let the children create.
  • Grow a garden – Designate an area in your yard to grow a garden. Have the children help you plant vegetables and flowers.

Children will find different ways to use the materials provided and found. Your planned activity may not always go as expected. Remember that the most important part of any activity is the process and the learning associated with that and not the final product!

Andréane Werbrouck Valade, RECE
Preschool Educator at Kanata Research Park Family Centre