My amazing parents helped construct our new outdoor kitchen last fall. The children absolutely love it and it has quickly become the most used area of our outdoor classroom.
I hung garden hose baskets to hold our watering cans and other gear. I also added a few small shelves to hold our kitchen tools. I believe children thrive in an environment that is efficient with supplies that are easily accessible. The children take pride in being able to access everything they need for their play.
We have several stumps throughout our outdoor classroom. They are aesthetically pleasing to the eye as well as serve many purposes. The children enjoy stepping from one stump to another practicing their balance and coordination. They often pretend that there are alligators waiting for them on the ground and that they must use the stumps to get safely to the other side. I love to hear them squeal with delight when they have successfully crossed every stump in the line.
The stumps also provide sufficient seating for “audiences” to watch elaborate plays and performances acted out by their peers. The stumps are also useful as a play surface for building or playing with different materials.
Under the Oak Tree became a certified Nature Explore classroom in 2015. I have continually made changes as I discover what works for our program and what doesn’t. I will be sharing photos of our outdoor classroom over the next few weeks.
We spend many hours outdoors every day. I believe it is just as important to organize your outdoor classroom as it is your indoor environment. If materials are visible and easily accessible, children will take the next step and incorporate these materials into their play. I have placed small metal buckets inside plant holders to help organize loose parts. The handle on the bucket allows the children to simply lift the bucket out and take it where they need it. I use the buckets for a variety of different materials, including pine cones, acorns, seed pods, as well as other natural materials. In this photo the buckets are holding stones. I rotate loose parts quite often.