Curious Play Outdoors – Winter

As a Childminder who is highly influenced by the Curiosity approach I like to spend lots of quality, educational yet largely child led time outdoors.

I am lucky that I have a large garden and lots of green open spaces on my door step so I can give the children lots of free play opportunities but always at the back of my mind is the thought of how the children will benefit, what are the children’s next steps and am I adding awe and wonder to their day?

Seasons play a massive part in my setting and I have a loose fluid feel to my activities which I like to be led by the weather, local events and above all the children’s interests. Where planning is concerned it is actually largely in the moment planning and spontaneous.

Winter

Creating a ‘Winter Wonderland’ does not have to be contained within 4 walls, in fact the best learning opportunities can often come from the real world and getting out into nature with outdoor play.

Fog

For young children the weather can offer them lots of learning opportunity and can give them a new perspective on the world…. whilst we might find foggy weather a dull and miserable, a child might see awe and wonder, a thing of beauty.

I love to take the children to the park on foggy days so that they can look upon this familiar place but notice the changes the weather brings. The misty branches of the trees, the calm and stillness, can we spot the sun breaking through?

Painting

If your children are anything like mine then they will love to get creative, particularly with paint. I love to use my tuff tray throughout the year and I think this is a vital tool that every setting should have.

Painting outdoors is a fantastic way that the children can be as messy as they like and get their creative juices flowing and given the opportunity to build relationships with their peers, learn to take turns and to discover their own capabilities.

Puddles

Ok so the humble puddle is clearly not always associated with the winter in the UK.. more of an all year occurrence but I do find that in the winter when the play areas are cold and damp and the grass is boggy that toddlers can still enjoy the freedom and achievement of splashing in a puddle…. developing an early understanding of cause and effect.

Snow

Do you take your toys outdoors? I love to create play scenes and displays and the snow can be a great way of securing ideas and used to your advantage. Toys are designed to be played with and that is exactly what we do with ours.

Cold weather and snow can be used to great advantage in your setting. STEM activities aplenty, feeding a curious mind…. Why does it snow? How does ice form? Can I pick up water? Were just some questions we explored during the winter and I like to answer the children’s questions with ‘I wonder’ to give them the chance to answer their own questions.

Ice Paint

Fill a tuff tray with water, add paint, allow to freeze, get messy.

One of the highlights of the winter was creating our own ice paint and instead of a muddy puddle we created a rainbow slushy puddle.

Painting in the woods

This activity kept my little people entertained all morning and gave them the opportunity to be outdoors, exploring the local woodland but adding the extra element of painting ‘in the wild’.

Simply wrap a tree or 2 in lining paper, brown paper or an off cut if wall paper and let their imagination soar.

This is a unique way of feeding a curious mind.

Outdoor Kitchens

This is one area of my garden that is always changing and developing. Filled with loose parts it is a place where mud pies and potions are created at the hands of the little explorers.

Given the tools children can recreate things they have seen their familiar adults doing… making cups of tea, washing the pots, setting up tea parties are all ways that children role play to make sense of their surroundings and to secure ideas.

I often provide a bowl of warm soapy water in the chillier months so that they can play without getting cold hands.

I hope that these ideas have fed your interests and given you a greater understanding of ways that I use the Curiosity approach in my setting.

I will be bringing you further ideas surrounding my outdoor activities as the seasons change so make sure you subscribe to this blog and follow me on instagram Mama’s Den

Jen x

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