Outdoor Environment- all change!

Warning- Extreme jealousy may occur!!!

A few years back our school sold some land to developers and as part of that deal, there has been some money allocated to improve the infrastructure of the school.¬† My headteacher described it as the money you can spend on things that if you turned the school upside down it wouldn’t fall out!

It’s been a difficult time as a school with large cuts to our support staff due to the underfunding of budgets. I won’t go on here about my views on that or it would be a very different post…but it’s wonderful to have a bit of good news even if it seems to strange to have money for one area but not another.

So we are having a major makeover and the Year 1 outdoor learning environment has been made a priority.

We are working with a local company that really has the children at the heart of what they do. See link to the company at the bottom of the page.

Tom has been fantastic at including the children in the process. He asked them what they wanted and of course, we talked at length about what I felt were the important areas I needed to deliver a rich learning experience.

He then produced these sketches:

This is the area under the trees where I want the children to develop their gross motor skills through climbing. There are also communication friendly spaces where small groups or pairs of children can sit and talk.¬†There is also a fire pit area with surround seating for storytelling, as well as willow ‘nests’ for cosy reading!

 

 

The main centre area has a large sandpit and Big Outdoor Maths area. I know the children will use maths throughout the area but it’s a great feature to focus their attention.

 

 

The last area will have a waterproof area for storage and a possible woodworking area. As well as a fantastic water play zone where we can explore the capacity objectives in the Year 1 curriculum in a meaningful way. It’s also just plain fun!

 

To be totally honest I couldn’t believe it! It was exactly what I had in my mind and on budget. I had spent the last 3 years looking into playground equipment and landscaping. But the companies either were too expensive or too restrictive/ narrow on how the children could interact with the equipment.

I wanted to build on the ethos of the year group with discovery and free choice at the heart of the process.; with the environment fueling the children’s imagination and creativity rather than prescribing a way they should access it.

Progress so far has been exciting!

The digger moves in!
The children loved seeing the digger at work.
Clearing the way
Taking up the old worn out play surface.
Installing the first part of the climbing structure to encourage the strengthening of gross motor skills.

I am going into school today and hope to take some more pictures. I’ll keep you posted.

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