Archive for April, 2011

Outdoor Play

Outdoor Learning  Environments

Outdoor play is a very important part of a child’s learning experience and life in general. Research indicates increased outdoor play time has been shown to reduce outbursts by children with behavior issues. Children with Autism are calmed and do better with given tasks when provided with outdoor play time. I think there’s a positive, healthy outcome to outdoor play time. Children are able to release tension, get out the wiggles and release their excess energy. Also vigorous play helps to reduce stress levels as an effect of releasing built up energy and tension. A child needs opportunities for vigorous outdoor activities each day. According to state requirements a child should have at least a recommended minimum of thirty minutes per day of vigorous outdoor play time.

Not only is outdoor play beneficial for a child’s stress level, energy level and concentration, but it also benefits the gross motor skills development. Running, jumping, hopping, skipping, climbing and chase games are all helping with gross motor skills development. Grasping small, natural objects like leaves, twigs and seeds help with fine motor skills development.

The outdoor play environment should be designed in a way that encourages inquiry, examination, and invites running, jumping, and climbing. It should also challenge and stimulate children and create a sense of belonging. The teacher can create effective outdoor learning programs and improve the physical environment based on developmental and individual needs of the children in his or her care. Teachers who are willing to explore, have a sense of wonder with children will draw them into learning. The outdoor program and space should address the child as a whole- physical, emotional, cognitive and social development should be considered.

Some outdoor design considerations include providing curvy paths, open spaces, and places of solitude. Areas of play need to have lots of space and natural areas for gross motor skills development such as large rocks for climbing, tree roots for jumping and walking on. Natural experiment must be encouraged by the outdoor environment. A place for music or music garden, can be provided by hanging pots and pans for the children to beat with a stick. With this being outside, the children can play music as hard as they would like to express themselves! Also a place for a vegetable or flower garden would benefit children as it allows the kids to work together for a common goal, teaching social skills. Digging in the dirt releases endorphins in the brain which can reduce depression. Private spaces can be designed by placing lattice around a bench, giving a secluded feeling. The overall design and program of the outdoor learning environment should be focused on play with the intention of learning. We as educators must remember this as we plan the design of our outdoor environments.


Planting a Rainbow – TEACHER-TEACHER.

Planting a Rainbow

Lesson Plan Designed by Susan Armstrong

Using the following kindergarten standards for NC:

Competency Goal 3

The learner will make connections through the use of oral language, written language, and media and technology.

3.01 Connect information and events in text to experience.

3.02 Discuss concepts and information in a text to clarify and extend knowledge.

3.03 Associate target words with prior knowledge and explore an author’s choice of words.

3.04 Use speaking and listening skills and media to connect experiences and text:

listening to and re-visiting stories. Discussing, illustrating, and dramatizing stories. Discovering relationships.

Planting a Rainbow 

This lesson focuses on reading comprehension, writing skills, and science curriculum materials. Many of these needed items have to be prepared before hand.

Purpose/Objectives of activity:

*Enhance creative thinking skills

*Broaden language skills

*Connecting information and content in text to experiences

*Discuss concepts and information in text to clarify and extend knowledge

*Use speaking and listening skills to connect experiences and text by listening to,  discussing, and discovering relationships between text and experiences

*Build awareness of the growth stages for plant life

*Compare and contrast the information in the text to experiences

*Learn to observe, list and document the plant growth observations

Space and materials needed:

*Book: Planting a Rainbow by LoisEhlert

*Various types of flower bulbs or seeds (The amount will depend on how may children are in your room, and how many types of flowers you want them to grow)

*Small Styrofoam cups

*Potting soil

*Large spoon for scooping dirt

*Watering canister

*Pre-made bulletin board or large paper on the wall- to document the growth processes and stages of the bulbs

*Pencils and markers for writing


1)     Read Planting a Rainbow  book to the class, emphasizing the names of and stages of the plants’ growth. As you call out the names of the flowers, have the children to try to say them as well.

2)     Discuss the colors of the rainbow of flowers, the stages of the growth of flowers, and the scents and fragrances that these flowers might radiate. Encourage the children to express their ideas and thoughts on these items for discussion.

3)     Discuss the various names and types of flowers listed in the text of the story. Ask children if they had ever seen any, and where? Ask the children to think of and try to name other types of flowers they have seen, or even been a part of planting.

4)     Have one of the children to pass out the cups, one to each child. Go to each child, with the potting soil, and put the appropriate amount of dirt into cups. Have one of the children to pass out the seeds or bulbs to each child.

5)     Before planting the bulbs, discuss the types of seeds or bulbs you are giving them and encourage each child to make a prediction about what color it might grow up to be. (Sometimes the plants grow a different color than what is pictured on the labels) Write the names of each child’s seeds or bulbs on the chart, and each child’s predictions on the bulletin you had already prepared. Now help the children to write their own name of their seeds or bulbs on the cup, along with their name, for easy identification.

6)     Have the children to plant their seeds or bulbs in the dirt, observing and engaging in helping as needed, to make sure it is covered enough to ensure its proper growth. Also help the children to water the seeds. As you go through the room, have discussions about the needed items to make seeds and bulbs grow: water, dirt, sunlight. Talk about the growth stages shown in the book, and have the children to predict how long they think their seeds or bulbs will take to show some greenery outside the dirt. Document these predictions as well.

7)     Place all the cups in the window sill, or near a naturally well lit area in the classroom.

8)     As the days go by, be sure to visit the plants often, and have the children to water them, and document how much the plant has grown. Continue processes until the plants are grown and flowers are blooming.

9)     Once you are finished with the growing process, the flowers would make a great gift for the child to give to someone they consider special! Compare and contrast the predictions made to the actual growth and colors of the plants.


This is an ongoing science lesson, and language and literacy lesson, so be prepared and prepare children for the duration of time it will take. Also, consider the season and amount of growth time for the seeds or bulbs that you choose. Try to choose some that will have a healthy and prosperous growth, and be mindful of the amount of care needed for each type of plant. As the days go by, revisit the book, and have the children to re-tell the story as well. Using a camera is a great way to enhance the excitement of the lesson, as you take pictures of the growth of the plant from day to day. As an extension, you can use this activity for other writing and charting ideas, such as charting the days it takes for growth, matching the pictures in the book to the actual plants or the pictures of the plants that are growing.

Hello world!

A little about me:

I love working with children, especially preschool aged children. I enjoy searching and sifting through early childhood websites and blogs. I also enjoy sharing important and relevant sites with people on my FaceBook page:
I am always open to learning more effective and fun ways to teach. Please leave your own posts, suggestions and ideas!

I also have an Associates Degree in Early Childhood Education and wish to continue to get an Undergraduate degree soon.