Space and Design
Think about what spaces you would include when designing your outdoor learning environment. In the outdoor learning environment, indoor activities are extended into outdoor areas. However, it probably won’t be possible to set up the outdoor area with every indoor interest area (e.g., kitchen), and that’s OK. When making your plan, select around 10 of the following elements that you would use in your outdoor learning environment. Select the boxes to indicate the features you would include.
- Is there an unobstructed view of the children at all times?
- Is there easy access to and from the indoor space used by the program?
- Is there easy access to restrooms?
- Is there a drinking fountain?
- Is there a water spigot for attaching a hose?
- Is there age-appropriate equipment for climbing, swinging and building?
- Is there a storage shed?
- Are there soft materials like sawdust, sand or bark under swings, slides and climbers?
- Are there sunny and shady areas?
- Are there paved or hard surfaces for riding, chalk, etc.?
- Is there a covered area for use in wet weather?
- Is there a place to be alone or with one or two other children?
- Is there open, grassy space for running, kicking, throwing, etc.?
- Is there an area for digging?
ConsiderWhich of the spaces for learning did you decide to include, and why? Which of the spaces for learning did you decide not to include? Discuss your responses with your trainer, coach, or administrator.
Draw your own
- Now, think about how you might organize these spaces in the outdoor learning environment. Use the space below to draw a diagram of the layout of outdoor learning activities. After drawing your diagram, answer the questions below.
Reflect on Safety
- Is the area free from litter?
- Are any materials or equipment damaged?
- Do you see rust, splinters or cracks in any equipment?
- Are there obvious hazards (s-hooks on swings, sharp edges, places to pinch fingers)?
- Are there large rocks or roots that may trip children?
- Are there protective surfaces under climbers, swings and slides?
Think about your answers to the questions above. Feel free to make changes to your diagram if there are spaces or design elements you would like to add. Discuss your plan with a trainer, coach, or administrator.
Dodge, D., Rudick, S., Berke, K. (2006). The Creative Curriculum for Infants, Toddlers and Twos, 2nd ed. Washington DC: Teaching Strategies.
Supporting outdoor play and exploration for infants and toddlers. (2013). Early Head Start National Resource Center.