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Making the Most of Outdoor Play

by Karen Stephens
May/June 1993
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How can you double the space of your classroom without remodeling your facility? By opening your curriculum to the great outdoors! Ingenious and motivated teachers use the outdoor play yard DAILY to extend and enrich children's learning. Open air activities do more than educate, they rejuvenate the spirit - verified by children's frequent squeals of delight and exuberance. Mental health as well as physical health is enhanced from outdoor play. And nothing sparks children's intellect and curiosity as much as the good earth herself! Your outdoor play area offers a boundless array of hands-on learning activities for overall development.

Admittedly, some early childhood teachers dread outdoor play. They become bored or find children become too unruly. So teachers keep students cooped up inside, believing this will keep the children more manageable and "under control." Quite the contrary happens! Children with pent-up energy are LESS able to comply with indoor expectations which emphasize quiet, sedentary, and restrained behavior. Children allowed to be enthusiastic and boisterous - meaning child-like - through outdoor play are more relaxed and cooperative for classroom activities. When you tune into outdoor experiences, you do yourself AND the ...

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