Playing outside is an important part of our program (although it is tough to do when we are stuck in the deep freeze of 40 below temperatures!) If we want kids to learn to love nature and take care of it we need to get them out there and to be comfortable in it.
The benefits of playing outside are many! Kids learn to appreciate nature and develop a respect for it.
-Kids learn about bugs and that they are really not so scary! We dig for worms, hold lady bugs, look for ants and other crawly things. (I want kids to understand they do not need to step on every insect they see.) We talk about how insects help us; that bees pollinate trees and plants in the garden, worms help the soil drain, and spiders eat mosquitoes!!
-Kids who spend time outside in nature are more relaxed. There have been studies done that show kids diagnosed with ADHD showed fewer symptoms after playing outside in nature.
-Kids develop their large muscles through running, jumping, hopping, balancing, etc. …and do they ever get rid of a lot of energy running through all that snow!
-Kids develop their small muscles through digging in sand and snow, planting seeds, picking leaves and flowers, and making delicacies like snow muffins.
-Kids develop thinking skills (cognitive skills) through observing and discussing topics such as the changing seasons, tending to the seeds we have planted, watching the water in the sand box, and moving the loose parts such as wood to create something from their imaginations. They learn where some of our food comes from and watch it grow from seed to vegetable. From there we get to cook with it and get to eat what we grow.
-Kids develop language talking about everything they see and hear. We have some great discussions and the kids can hear the train horns, geese honking overhead, the helicopters flying by, and the squirrels chattering at us.
-Kids develop social skills through cooperation and working together on different ideas they come up with.
We often take the inside out. We read books on a blanket under the trees or have snack outside like a picnic. We also love to paint while being inspired by the colours or textures we are surrounded by.
There is nothing as good as hearing the giggles and laughter of kids playing outside!