Overview Introduction 1.Creating aesthetically appealing learning spaces 2.Supporting children’s learning through all sensory pathways 3.Extending children’s learning through their interests 4.Promoting children’s choice and independence Reflection (slides 3–4) (slides 5–9) (slides 9–14) (slides 15–24) (slides 25–29) (slides 30–32) Numbered sections begin with a slide of key points, then analyse examples of successful learning environments. This presentation supports teachers to plan and create inclusive outdoor learning environments that support children’s learning.
Inclusive learning environments Invite children to: wonder, be curious and enthusiastic, and share their joy and excitement have fun, relax, enjoy quiet times, be noisy, watch from a distance or join in feel secure, comfortable, trusted and competent make choices and engage deeply in learning and conversations that are meaningful to them
Inclusive learning environments also invite children to: reflect on their learning through shared conversations play independently and collaborate with others be healthy, safe and hygienic, and promote wellbeing engage all the senses, including visual, auditory and kinaesthetic modes, and explore beauty and aesthetics engage in all the areas of learning and development. (Queensland kindergarten learning guideline p. 24)
1.Aesthetic possibilities for play When teachers plan possibilities for outdoor play, they: consider the flexibility of existing equipment, e.g. ensuring there’s a mixture of fixed and readily moveable equipment use combinations of natural and built shade areas use the existing elements of the outdoor landscape design to support learning possibilities consider the aesthetics of the outdoor environments.
When teachers support children to engage in a range of sensory experiences they: make learning exciting and interesting encourage children to explore and experiment with the properties of materials provide opportunities for children to demonstrate their knowledge, skills and dispositions through multiple pathways. 2.Supporting deep learning through sensory pathways
3.Extending children’s learning Support and extend children’s learning through: building on their interests offering a choice of materials in a variety of locations varying resources and degrees of challenge stimulating wonder and excitement.
Set up physical challenges that develop motor skills
4.Promoting children’s choice and developing independence Teachers support children’s abilities to make choices, and to develop increasing independence, by managing routines and resources that support children to: independently use resources care for equipment and the environment understand and use safe practices.
Make choices: One teacher’s thoughts “I like to encourage children to make choices about what kinds of materials and resources we have, both indoors and out. We have taken lots of photographs of the play equipment and use these to prompt us when we talk about what we need and where we can place it. I model this process first. These conversations are great opportunities to challenge traditional ideas about ‘indoor equipment’ and ‘outdoor equipment’ and to focus on children’s interests. Sometimes taking materials into another play space adds a whole new level of interest or changes the ways that the children play with the materials. This kind of flexibility is vital.”
Reflecting on the learning environment Questions for teacher reflection: How can children’s learning be promoted more effectively? What might need to change in the learning environment to enhance learning? What resources need to be used to enhance learning? How can the learning evident in one context be supported to develop in another? What opportunities are created for children to demonstrate their learning and where is this evident? How many different ways are available for children to demonstrate what they know?
A child’s view of the environment I can see who I am and what I like to do in this place. There are comfortable places where my parents can sit with me or talk to the teacher. The natural world can be found here. There is something sparkly, shadowy, wondrous or magical here. My teacher often places a “special” object out on display. I try to work out what it is and how it works.
A child’s view of the environment There are materials here that I can use to show my ideas, and to express my feelings and my imagination. I can feel powerful here and be physically active. I can see things from different perspectives here. I can express my ideas through all the arts: dance, music, visual arts, drama. I know my teachers and they know me. (Adapted from Carter & Curtis 2003, Designs for living and learning: Transforming early childhood environments, Redleaf Press, Minnesota, p. 12)