Home Is Where My Story Begins

Creating An Outdoor Learning Space

The seeds and starts have been planted in our little garden and my attention is turning to how we use our outdoor space.  My daughter is 10 now, and she has used the playset behind our garden, less and less over the past two years.
I always said that, when the kids outgrew the playset, we could get an above ground pool for this area.  It’s a nice flat spot that gets lots of sun!

The problem I’m having is that I just don’t see them using a pool.  We love swimming and go to the local pool several times a week in the summer, but my kids are spoiled.  The pools are really warm. (Side story:  When they were little I would hook up the hose to the hot water heater so we could have warm water in the blow up pool.) We live in the Pacific Northwest, and nights are not warm.  The pool water in an unheated pool is pretty chilly!  I truly think that if we put a pool in this spot, I would go unused.

My mind has been wandering toward the idea of Outdoor Learning in my classroom lately.  I’m kind of obsessed with Reggio Emilia and Reggio Inspired learning spaces.  You can read more about my Reggio obsession on my literacy blog.  I’ve been reading about wonderful outdoor spaces that simply invite kids into nature, and it made me start to wonder if I could create something inspiring out here.
Can’t you image a little arbor or bridge inviting a 10 year old and her friends into a mini outdoor school to play?

I’m picturing a few Adirondak chairs, tree stumps for side tables, maybe a table made from a tree round, a chalk board on the fence, and balance beams made from logs.  Little outdoor lights, hanging from the fence would complete the space.  The little kids (the 10 year olds) might use it to play school, or games on the chalkboard, while the big kids (the 14 year old crowd) could use it as a hang out that’s a little further away from mom and dad on a summer night.  Maybe I’m dreaming, but I think this could be a really cool space!
I’ve created a Pinterest board with ideas for my outdoor learning space.  Some of the ideas are more suited to a school environment, but there are lots of ideas that could be used in the backyard as well.  

I can see using lots of natural materials, which might keep cost down.  Now, I just need to find a neighbor who is cutting down a tree and doesn’t need the wood.
Happy outdoor space planning!

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