Fun and Inclusive Classroom Seating

September is the month of changes. The change in season – the cooler temperatures, shorter days, the vibrant transformation of leaves and the change in clothing – time to take out your jackets and boots! For students and educators, September signals the start of a new school year. This means new classes, & new daily routines. Teachers get to see the changes in students’ personalities and appearances after the summer. On this educational adventure with the young ones, it’s also important that you make changes in the classrooms to adapt with the learning needs of students. Seats are especially important because students spend most of their days sitting on them! In this blog, we look at alternative seating – an excellent substitute for traditional classrooms chairs and tables. 

  1. Why Alternative Seating? 

When we think of alternative seating, we usually think of yoga balls, or odd-looking seats that allow children to move, interact with. This offsets the common perception of classroom seating, which includes desks, or tables and chairs facing the front of the classroom. Although this is the classic classroom arrangement, tables and chairs are usually inflexible. It’s difficult to move them around, and everyone knows the tedious screeching noise they always make! Sitting in conventional chairs for a long period of time can also result in students sitting in poor posture, and potential health issues in the future. Alternative seating, however, allows children to wobble, rock, bounce, pedal, and so much more. They make it easier to move around and encourage children to be more alert and active. As we all know, physical activity is related to more effective learning, better health, and improved conduct in children.  

Adjustable Wiggle Stool has an extra-thick padded seat that allows for comfortable all-day use. The tamper-proof adjustable height reduces distractions and helps promote a focused environment. The base is angled for improved posture and provides stability, even when over-tipped.  

Chairs designed for active sitting like the wiggle stool, or balance balls can also promote core strength! 

Kids get to choose the seating that best suits their learning style and comfort. By providing students with a variety of seating options, such as bean bags, floor cushions, standing desks, teachers also empower them to make decisions that affect their learning process. As they get to pick the variety of high, medium, low seating, the type of seat, and the space to sit, they will experiment with different options and find out the one that works best for them. This will increase their commitment to learn, spark their creativity and innovative thinking. 

Comfort is crucial in the learning process, as an uncomfortable student not only cannot focus on their own tasks, but also potentially influence badly on others. Finding comfortable seating will help students tremendously in their learning, as it helps to improve attention span, concentration, and even reduce stress. 

Bean Bag Chair offer relaxed seating that molds the body’s contour! This bean bag is lightweight and is great for individual or social seating. 

Bouncyband Sensory Peanut Ball helps calm and relax kids by giving them a sense of security and well-being. The soothing effect relieves anxiety and restlessness and improves concentration and behaviours. The dipped sitting “saddle” position enables greater stability while developing balance and coordination.  

Comfortable seating options like bean bags and cushions help children relax and focus on their tasks. When students are comfortable, they are less likely to be distracted! 

Alternative seating also stimulates teamwork & communication! They allow students to quickly move around and form teams with each other, without having to move the desks (screeechh!) or move into others’ desks. Compared to traditional desks and chairs where everyone has their own seats – a distinct place and space, alternative seating allows students to have control over the learning environment, and more mobility. The classroom becomes everyone’s space to share!  The design of alternative seating also implies a more welcoming, collaborating nature, and will encourage students to communicate and share with each other more. Hence, group work becomes more interactive and engaging! 

Sit-N-Gym has little feet to prevent them from rolling away when used as a sitting ball. It encourages dynamic sitting through gentle body movements that improves blood circulation. It also promotes proper body alignment for better posture. 

How to spark up a conversation? Hop on this and jump over to your friend! 

Alternative seating can fulfill students’ specific needs. Some seats help kids to develop their sense of touch. Students with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder can enjoy alternative seating as they allow them to be active and release excess energy while learning. Students with emotional issues, and prone to stress can rely on alternative seating which has comfortable, soothing design. Every student has a different learning style. Some kids work well in quiet environments like the library, while others strive in an active and dynamic classroom. Alternative seating recognizes this need in students and fulfils it with different options. 

BouncyBand Balance Chair reduces fidgeting and increases concentration with an original weighting feature that prevents the ball from rolling, keeping it in place when not in use. Active seating improves focus and provides an outlet for excess energy alleviating anxiety, stress, and boredom. Builds core strength and a healthy posture. 

Instead of a one-size-fits-all approach, alternative seating can adapt to specific student’s needs to improve their learning process. 

Alternative seating helps to build a positive and inclusive classroom. As students feel like their opinions are valued, they will develop a positive attitude towards learning and their classmates. Giving students choices and ownership develops their self-confidence and responsibilities, which are two essential skills to success. Alternative seating can help the classroom become more inviting, making kids eager to come to school. When we think about alternative seating, one of the first few words that come to our mind is always “fun”! 

ErgoErgo is an extraordinary seating concept combining the benefits of active sitting with a bold contemporary design. It is comfortable, durable, and perfect for classrooms, libraries or just relaxing. It’s ergonomic and versatile enough to be used at your desk. 

After sitting on ErgoErgo, ordinary chairs seem…well, just ordinary.  

  1. Alternative Seating Options for The Classroom 

A few alternative seating options you should know about and consider for the next school year: 

  1. Wiggle Stool have rounded or rocking bases which will help students to be active while sitting. This is an excellent choice for students that need extra movements throughout the day.
  1. Balance Balls are large, inflatable balls that help with posture and balance.  
  1. Cushions/Floor Seating are popular because of their prices and versatility. These types of seating allow more space for movement and are easy to move around. 
  1. Couches, Futon and Sofas make a great seating option in the classroom, not only because of their relaxing nature, but also because of the aesthetic value they bring to the classroom. 
  1. Rocking Chairs and Swing Seats provide a unique experience as they add the rocking/swinging motion, which gives off a familiar, calming effect to help children ease off and concentrate. 
  1. Folding Seats has many benefits. Not only do they take up little space so teachers can organize more activities without having to move furniture around, but they also have a variety of colours and price range to choose from! 
  1. Stools allow students to adopt different, and healthier postures than conventional seating options. 
  1. BouncyBand products offer options to transform traditional chairs and desks, so they become more adaptable to students’ needs! 

The Active Floor Seat creates a comfortable learning environment. The ball top provides movement, enhancing focus for active children. You can use it for exercise, rehabilitation, or as a balance trainer.  

Cozy Woodland Carry Me Cushions give students a comfortable place to sit during story time playtime or any floor activity. The foam cushions feature a durable wipe-clean cover and carrying handle. 

Some Floor Seating options for the classroom! 

Bouncyband Calming & Fun Sensory Rocker provides active movement, deep pressure, and sensory stimulation to calm and aid with fidgeting and restlessness. Children can rock and expel excess energy while being soothed and comforted with deep pressure. 

Rocking is an excellent way to receive vestibular stimulation, strengthen muscles and develop a sense of balance. 

Raylax Chair is great for story time, circle time or classroom discussion. Chairs can be used in numerous positions and by all ages. 

Folding Seats have reclining backrest adjusts to 10 positions for comfortable floor seating. 

These seats can be folded to save space! 

Bouncyband for Desks enable kids to have an outlet for excess energy while working, alleviating anxiety, hyperactivity, and boredom, and increasing focus and performance. The patented design keeps the bands elevated for continuous silent use. 

Bouncyband Wiggle Feet Sensory Foot Rest quietly enables movement while working to foster the ability to stay on task and be more productive. One side feature flexible nub, while the other offers small bumps to facilitate just the right amount of tactile stimulation. Excellent for bilateral coordination, improving balance and stabilization. 

BouncyBands transform the traditional desks & chairs to adapt to students’ needs! 

  1. Setting Up Alternative Seating in the Classroom 

Setting up alternative seating in the classroom is a rewarding process, knowing that your actions contribute to a more positive, and innovative learning environment! It all starts with you researching different types of alternative seating options (like reading this blog!) and consider the most suitable ones for your objectives and budget. Define your goal when implementing alternative seating. Do you plan to improve focus, or make your classrooms more interactive? 

Next, look at your classroom layout and available space. Not all classrooms have ample space or are designed to have seats arrangements. When creating a seating plan, make sure it is optimized with your classroom’s layout, and be aware of any health regulation that is implemented in your school. Kids should have enough space to move around comfortably, and to carry on with their learning activities.  Involve your students in the process too! Let them know about the benefit of alternative seating and ask for their opinions about what they love to have in the classrooms.  

Establish rules, and expectations when using alternative seating options with children. Discussing topics like taking care of the furniture and respecting others’ choices will help the young ones to be more responsible and caring for the products. Carefully assess the impact of alternative seating options as you implement them in the classrooms. Do the students enjoy them? Do their academic performances improve? Collect feedback from the kids! 

Finally, remember to maintain a flexible mindset when applying alternative seating options in the classroom. Be open to altering your teaching methods and activities to include these fun, comfortable seats in the teaching process. At the end of the school year, organize your findings, and share with your colleagues to promote the benefits of alternative seating! 

Back To School: Tips to Prepare for a Successful School Year

Ah, that bittersweet moment when you hear the word “school” again. Just moments ago, you were on the beach with your flip flops, applying sunscreen on your skin, enjoying a refreshing drink, and then August arrives. It seems like any minute from now, you are going to hear the lovely sound of the alarm clock again, eager to tell you to wake up and start the day. Going back to school is definitely an emotional experience! It could mean happiness and surprise, seeing all the faces, the changes in your students, and colleagues. It could also mean worries, uncertainties, and even a little bit of excitement thinking about the next journey that you and your students will go through together. We’ve compiled a list of tips to help you prepare for the next school year, check them out below, and hopefully it will help you better prepare for your next adventure with the young ones! 

  1. A Welcoming Classroom 

Creating an inviting environment in the classroom provides the foundation for a positive learning experience. Objects in the classroom will be one of the first things students notice and interact with, so it’s important to decorate your classroom with eye-catching displays such as colourful paintings, and inspiring quotes. Set up desks, tables, and cabinets in a way that makes it easy for communication between students. Organizing the desks strategically can encourage interaction and teamwork, fostering a sense of belonging among students. Shifting the classroom layout also helps to keep the classroom new and motivate the pupils. Finally, you can add small but meaningful touches like printing out students’ names, or display students’ artworks from last year. These small details will make the learners feel more valued and help to build strong relationships throughout the school year. Purchase for yourself a new planner, tote bag, and other necessary items too! 

After the students get acquainted with the new classroom’s decorations and set-up, it’s your turn to make them feel comfortable! As a teacher, you play an important role in supporting and welcoming each child. Put on a big smile, warmly welcome them, and ask them questions about their eventful summer. These small talks not only help to build rapport, but also make them feel like they are in a safe and inclusive environment. Be excited about the upcoming plan for the school year. This will ignite a sense of curiosity in the students, help to create a positive atmosphere from day one. When every child is calmly seated, it’s time to talk about classroom rules! Clear sets of expectations and boundaries are essential for maintaining order and promoting a productive learning environment. Of course, you don’t have to be the sole rule-maker of the classroom! Talk to the students about the guidelines, what they think of them, discussing the reasons behind each one to help them understand the purpose. Keep the language straight-forward and use a positive tone to go with it. Check out the Good Behaviour Buckets, as these are examples of how you can reward/discipline students’ behaviours in a light-hearted manner. Instruct students on what to do in daily morning meetings, transitions between classes, and various activities throughout the day. Establishing good routines can reduce anxiety and increase focus, allowing students to feel more secure and confident in their learning environment. For the first few lessons of the school year, make sure to incorporate in lots of interactive activities to get your learners involved, and for them to get to know each other.  

Everyone is Welcome Poster Set: These colourful and engaging posters are perfect for classrooms! Important messages can be referred to as needed, from “Slow down deep breath start again” to “We are all in this together, be kind” and more, these encouraging phrases will inspire. This set consists of 7 posters. 

Colour Harmony Calendar: Celebrate special days in colourful style! Includes calendar, 12-month labels, 7 days of the week labels, 4 seasons labels, season/weather chart, 33 date markers, 44 holidays/special day markers, Today/Tomorrow/Yesterday chart, weather graph and 2 arrows.  

A few great classrooms decorations for the classrooms.

Sparkle Stickers Variety Pack: Shiny stickers for rewards or decoration. Include Bots and Bolts, Fish Pirates and Crew, Flittering Fairies, Gnome Sweet Gnome, Mermaids and Friends, Sparkly Space Stuff, Sparkly Unicorns. 77 designs. 

Good Behaviour Buckets: Students learn how to fill their buckets with kindness, attentiveness, and other positive social-emotional skills with these Good Behavior Buckets. Positive behaviors land in the sunny orange bucket, while negative behaviors land in the stormy purple bucket.    

Fun items to use for reward/discipline students.

  1.  A Positive Learning Experience 

Each student has their own pace of learning, with different needs and abilities. Differentiate your instruction to cater to these diverse needs. You can start modifying your daily plans, starting with the content you show students! Instead of teaching the lesson in a fixed/designated way, educators can offer students with different options of how they would like to study this to meet the objective. Some students love to have lots of visual or auditory aids, while others like hands-on experience. Group work is also extremely valuable. Kids can learn so well from each other as they use the same expressions, relatable language that they can understand. Organize plenty of group work sessions, and group students based on their specialties and how well they complement each other. This also applies to the assignments you give students. Grant them options to present their understanding of the lessons, such as letting them write a song, a story, a speech, a presentation, or an art project! These assessments will also give you more information to help you tailor your teaching methods to ensure the kids’ success. 

Taking your time and effort to get to know students as individuals can make you a more effective educator. It is also essential for creating a healthy, and inclusive learning environment. Dedicate your time in a day to get to know your students. Beyond knowing your students’ names, basic personality traits, dig deeper to learn about their interests, strengths, and backgrounds. Show genuine interest in their well-being and celebrate their achievements, both academic and personal. Give them constructive feedback and acknowledge their efforts to boost their self-esteem and motivation. Create a safe and supportive space where students feel comfortable expressing themselves and sharing their thoughts. 

Art Start Kit: A must for every classroom, this kit contains a huge number of unique products for your favourite projects. Perfect for all types of collage or 3D crafts. Store leftover products in the neat storage box to reuse again and again. Includes idea guide. Packaged in a handy plastic storage container. 

Art Time Dough, Assorted, 1.4 kg, Set of 6: Pliable, safe and easy for children to work with, Art Time Dough is great for a variety of modeling projects. Brightly coloured with a pleasant smell, this soft, malleable dough is easy to clean up and can be used repeatedly when stored in its airtight plastic tub. 

Let students present what they learned in different ways, such as an art project!

Human Paper Shapes Kit: An open-ended collection of popular shapes cut from 8 different skin tone papers. These shapes are of terrific value and can be bases for many activities, puppets, portraits, name tags, desk markers, community helpers, story starters, decorations and more! 

Conversation Cubes, Set of 6: Spark discussions on the first day and beyond. Colourful cubes feature 36 engaging questions about student experiences and perspectives, including What are you most proud of? Who is the bravest person you know? Includes activity guide. 

Get closer to your students with these conversation-starters!

  1. Encourage Creativity

Elementary school children are at the age where they love to explore different art forms, work on puzzles/problem-solving issues and enhance their creativity. It is a crucial time to give them opportunities to play and create. Start asking students open-ended questions, encourage them to work together on activities that require communication and problem-solving skills. Integrating arts such as music, paintings, cinema, creative writings into daily lessons can also foster students’ imagination and inspire them to create. Books are great choices as they include a lot of eye-catching visuals and creative stories. As an educator, don’t forget to share your own creative work, and tips on how to be more creative with students. Embracing mistakes and reflecting on oneself is also an important process of creativity! Encourage children to take on challenges, and view failure as a part of a learning process. It will help them to become resilient and more successful in life.  

Inuit Stories Series, Set of 5: Beautifully illustrated legends and stories from Canada’s northern communities. Four books (Fishing with Grandma, The Legend of the Fog, The People of the Sea and Siuluk: The Last Tuniq).  

Eye-catching visuals and great storytelling will help to nourish children’s creativity.

Classpack Tangrams, Set of 30: The tangram is a 7-piece square puzzle. The whole class can practice problem-solving with tangrams in 6 colours: red, blue, yellow, green, orange and purple. Includes teaching notes and a reusable storage container. 

Conflict Resolution Games, Set of 6: A unique set of games that focuses on how to recognize conflict, how to handle it and how to resolve differences in a more positive solution-focused way. Each game and activity are designed to teach children about common conflict situations, how to recognize different emotional triggers, and how to understand and apply different conflict resolution techniques.  

Games to help young learners practice problem-solving skills.

  1. Supplies

For teachers, happiness equals shopping for new supplies. The new pencils’ smell, the shiny, bright colours of new storage bins…just thinking about them excites every teacher’s heart and mind! Jokes aside, colourful stationery is a staple for elementary school children. Fill pencil cases/storage boxes with a flamboyant mixture of pencils, erasers, crayons, colored pencils, and washable markers. Not only do these items spark creativity, but they also stimulate young minds to pick up a pen and start writing or drawing. Small items like sticky notes could also make a huge difference in children’s organization and learning.  

Crayola Coloured Pencils Classpack, Set of 462: The classpack gives students more than enough pencils to go around. 462 thick, pre-sharpened pencils in 14 rich, vivid colours. Convenient packs make them easy to store and use, too. Non-toxic. Includes 12 hand-held sharpeners. 

*Best Buy Washable Markers, Assorted, Set of 200 – Quality Classrooms: Best Buy markers offer great quality multi-purpose markers at superb value. 25 broad tip markers each of 8 colours. Wash most fabrics and skin with soap and water. Includes a reusable case. 

Don’t you just want to pick these freshly sharpen pencils and start drawing out your imagination?

Activity Trays, 12″ x 16″, Assorted Colours, Set of 12: Keep your art and craft table clean with this useful tray. Use it to contain paint and water spills. It can also be used for sorting and counting activities. The lip around the tray ensures that the beads, crayons and supplies don’t roll away. 

Create-a-Space Storage Center: Make a meeting place for creative minds. The Create-a-Space Storage Center brings an easy, convenient way to organize and present everyday “maker” materials in the classroom. This bright and cheerful set includes a 30 cm (12″) circular tray with 8 colourful containers.  

Art Time! 

The new school year is almost here, and early childhood educators have a new opportunity to ignite a lifelong love for learning in children. Shop for new supplies, decorate the classroom, get to know your students are some great activities you can do to create a positive, and inclusive learning environment where your students can grow academically and emotionally. Each child is unique and is a joy to get to know of, and by embracing their strengths, and their differences, you can empower them and help them to get to their full potential. Begin the new school year with enthusiasm and dedication, knowing that your efforts will have a tremendous impact on the lives of your young learners. Oh, and don’t forget to have fun while doing so. Here’s to a fresh start & another successful academic year ahead!                             

The Benefits of Outdoor Learning in the Summer

Summer is here! The temperature rises, the day stretches longer, and the natural environment offers countless opportunities for exploring. It’s the time of year when nature transforms into a vibrant playground, inviting children to venture outside and explore. In a world where screens and technology have become a dominant part of everyday life, summer serves as a refreshing opportunity to introduce outdoor learning and reignite the wonder and curiosity that lies within our children. Check out this blog for some benefits of outdoor learning in the summer, and great activities recommendations! 

Product in picture: Nature to Play Double Bench

1. Physical Health and Well-being:  

Summer provides an abundance of chances for children to engage in physical exercise. Whether they’re running, swimming, biking, or participating in sports, these activities promote cardiovascular fitness, muscle development, and overall physical health. The generous amount of sunlight during the summer months also helps the body produce vitamin D, which is essential for having strong bones and a healthy immune system. Additionally, outdoor play encourages children to be active, boosting their energy levels and improving sleep patterns, which benefits their general wellbeing. 

Fun activities to do: Outdoor sports and games are a fantastic way to keep children active. Organize friendly games of tag, capture the flag, or hide-and-seek in a park or backyard. Set up a mini soccer field or basketball court to encourage team play and friendly competition. Take them swimming, running, or simply just strolling around the neighbourhood in this great weather. Get them on bicycles & ride ons! They help children develop gross motor skills, balance, and agility. 

Winther Viking Trike has a harmonious, safe design with no sharp edges, and strong, oval-shaped tubes ensure maximum strength. It features a weather-resistant rubber seat, solid rubber handlebar grips, effective rust protection and impact-resistant powder coating that will last for many years. 

Tilo Three Wheeled Scooter features high quality steel bearings, powder coated steel frame. Tilo’s quality and safety standards allow children the freedom to experience the joy of motion, the confidence of speed and the adventure of exploration. 

2. Cognitive Development:

Outdoor learning greatly stimulates cognitive development. Children can touch, smell, hear, and see a multitude of elements, supporting sensory integration and cognitive processing. Outdoor environments also propose unlimited options for imaginative play, problem-solving, and critical thinking. Whether it’s building a fort, creating a nature-inspired artwork, or navigating a nature trail, children are challenged to think creatively and develop innovative solutions, enhancing cognitive flexibility and resilience. 

Fun activities to do: Nature scavenger hunts are fantastic ways to engage children in exploration and observation. Create a list of items commonly found in nature, such as specific leaves, rocks, flowers, animal tracks, or natural artifacts like feathers or pinecones. Provide each child with a checklist or a small bag to collect their findings as they venture outdoors. This activity not only motivates children to explore their surroundings but also stimulates critical thinking skills as they search for and identify various elements of nature. It sparks curiosity and enriches their knowledge of the natural world, making them more observant and attentive to their environment. 

Nature Feel & Find are over-sized, unrefined wood textures and nature-inspired shapes to elevate the classic discovery game. Use tactile senses to determine the hidden shapes in the canvas bag that correspond to the matching bases. 

Rainbow Pebbles is ideal for developing fine motor skills and for counting, sorting and creative design. Includes 36 plastic pebbles in 6 sizes and 6 colours and 20 double-sided full-colour activity cards in a sturdy plastic container. How many pebbles can you stack before they topple over?  

Great tools to use in Nature Scavenger Hunt game that helps children identify elements of nature.

3. Experiential Learning:

Summer outdoor learning presents rich, hands-on experiences that deepen children’s understanding of various subjects. By observing and interacting with the natural world, they can explore scientific ideas. Perceiving the life cycles of plants, studying insects, or carrying out easy experiment’s outdoors are all enjoyable pastimes. Additionally, learning about ecosystems, climate, and environmental sustainability through direct experiences fosters a deeper understanding of these topics. Experiential learning also stirs up curiosity and problem-solving skills, as children naturally encounter real-world challenges and find solutions within the context of their environment. 

Fun activities to do: Gardening! It is a rewarding outdoor activity that teaches children about the life cycle of plants, the importance of protecting the environment, and the delight of growing their own food. Create a small garden patch or provide children with their own pots or containers. Let them choose the plants they want to grow, whether it’s flowers, vegetables, or herbs. Teach them about soil preparation, planting, watering, and maintaining their garden. They can watch the growth process, learn about pollination and beneficial insects, and even harvest the fruits of their labor. Gardening teaches patience, responsibility, and an appreciation for the cycles of life. 

Sprout and Grow Window helps to get a worm’s eye view of root growth. This transparent “nature’s window” allows gardeners of all ages to watch seeds sprout and grow into plants. Stands upright on a tabletop or windowsill. Special potting soil nurtures seeds for optimum growth. Comes with packets of bean and pea seeds and a step-by-step guide with instructions, suggested activities, and journal pages to fill in as you follow the process from seed planting to full-grown plants. 

4. Connection with Nature:

Outdoor learning in the summer allows children to immerse themselves in the wonders of the natural world. Through direct experiences, they develop a deep connection and appreciation for the environment. Exploring forests, hiking trails, or simply playing in the backyard exposes them to diverse ecosystems, plants, and animals. This connection strengthens a sense of wonder, empathy, and environmental stewardship, inspires them to care for and protect our planet. Additionally, spending time in nature has been linked to improved mental health, reduced stress levels, and increased overall well-being, developing a balanced and harmonious lifestyle. 

Rusty Keeler’s “Nature to Play” outdoor furniture collection allows children to dig into childhood and play without reservation in a natural playscape that is built just for them. Children may take charge of their own learning experiences and participate in activities that are healthy for both their minds and bodies, as the Nature to Play collection is designed to be open-ended play. The furniture is made from thermally modified, weather-resistant wood to withstand long-term, rough-and-tumble play. 

Nature to Play Water Tower can be easily attaches to a standard garden hose, making it a simple, kid-activated water source.  

Nature to Play Trough System let children explore physics and cause and effect principles by pouring buckets of water. It is designed to work with the Water Tower to provide unlimited opportunities for kid-lead, water-based activities.  

Observe the cascading water and other messy elements! 

Nature to Play Loose Parts is inspired by construction and lumber yards. These durable, yet lightweight Kid Boards are an oversized version of your child’s beloved indoor block set. Kid board encourage teamwork and communication skills during collaborative building projects. 

These strong boards are made to inspire creativity and captivate children with unlimited play possibilities!

Nature to Play Mini Spool can be used as a table, stool, or turn it on its side and roll it around the yard during gross-motor activities. The Mini Spool encourages children to use their imaginations and play in creative, open-ended ways.  

The Spool can withstand continued outdoor use and rough play! 

Nature to Play Water Table brings the fun to water play! Fill the two large basins of this sturdy Water Table and let kids splash around and explore with all their senses. Bring in materials like water, sand, shaving cream or slime and encourage messy play during collaborative projects and social interaction around the large worksurface.  

Store mud tools, buckets, and Nature to Play Crates on the convenient bottom shelf. 

Nature to Play Planter is a large, reinforced basin with built-in drain allows for social interaction and collaboration while children dig, discover, explore and grow a variety of different plants. 

So many fun activities can be done with the Nature to Play collection!

5. Social and Emotional Development:

The outdoors serves as a natural setting for social interaction and the development of social skills. Collaborative outdoor activities, such as team sports or nature-based projects, push for cooperation, communication, and teamwork. Children learn to negotiate, share, and respect each other’s ideas and opinions. Furthermore, the open spaces, freedom, and unstructured play that the outdoors provide can contribute to emotional well-being. It enables children to release energy (especially when they need to “let off steam”), reduce stress, and improve their mood. Nature’s tranquility and beauty can have a calming effect on their emotions, nourishing a sense of peace, joy, and overall mental health. 

Fun activities to do: Outdoor art activities allow children to combine their creativity with the beauty of nature. Provide them with art supplies like chalk, paints, or watercolors and let their imaginations soar! They can create colorful murals on sidewalks, paint landscapes inspired by the scenery, or use natural materials like leaves and flowers to make nature-inspired collages. This activity not only stimulates their artistic abilities but also encourages a deeper appreciation for the environment. Children can learn to observe nature’s colors, textures, and patterns, translating them into their artwork. Outdoor art fosters self-expression, boosts confidence, and builds a connection between creativity and the natural world. 

Outdoor Acrylic Art Easel let kids enjoy nature and paint freely wherever they want. This painting easel has a durable frame made with 100% recycled plastic lumber that can withstand the elements. It does not rot or splinter (like some wood) or rust (like metal). The double-sided painting surface is made of hardened acrylic board and includes a removable paint tray with 6 spill-proof caps. The paint pots are accessible from both sides, allowing for space for two budding artists to create.  

Create together with the Outdoor Acrylic Art Easel. 

Pull up a bench to Nature to Play Outdoor Table for messy crafts, a picnic of veggies or collaborative activity. Large work surfaces provide ample room for social interactions and teamwork! 

6. Building Resilience:

Outdoor learning in the summer brings up independence and resilience in children. They have the freedom to explore, make decisions, and take risks in a monitored and supportive environment. This independence fuels self-confidence, self-reliance, and a sense of empowerment. Outdoor adventures also present opportunities to overcome obstacles, adapt to new environments, and develop resilience. Whether it’s building a shelter, overcoming a fear of heights on a climbing wall, or navigating a challenging hiking trail, children learn to persevere, problem-solve, and bounce back from setbacks. These experiences build character, grit, and the ability to face future challenges with confidence. 

Fun activities to do: Take children on nature walks or hikes opens a world of exploration and discovery. Visit nearby parks, forests, or nature reserves, allowing them to immerse themselves in the wonders of the outdoors. Encourage children to take note of and pick up on the many plant and animal species they come across along the route. Provide field guides or nature identification apps to help them identify trees, birds, insects, or other wildlife. Incites little ones to ask questions, explore different habitats, and appreciate the interconnectedness of nature. This practice promotes a sense of curiosity, enhances observation skills, and deepens their understanding of the natural world, developing a lifelong appreciation for the environment. 

Natural Shape Viewers inspires children to explore their environment with new enthusiasm and focus. Encourage children to use them around the setting to find items of similar shape or to focus attention on things they choose to investigate. The viewers are designed to frame a particular item or area in the natural world and will enable children to really look at the detail.   

Includes circle, square, rectangle, triangle, and hexagon.

In conclusion… 

As the sun sets on another long July day, it’s clear that outdoor learning has created a tapestry of joy, growth, and connection for our children. Every time spent in nature, from the early morning runs to the late-afternoon picnics, has served as a reminder of the many beauties that are waiting outside our door. As parents, by encouraging exploration, nurturing curiosity, and fostering a sense of stewardship for the environment, we equip children with invaluable tools for a lifetime of adventure and appreciation. We have the power to inspire and ignite a love for the outdoors in our children.  

And what better time to do so than during the bright, warm days of summer?

Loose Parts Play in an Early Learning Environment

Hi! My name is Ashley Elliott – I live on Vancouver Island, British Columbia in a community called Campbell River. My program, Aster Meadow Early Learning and Care, is a licensed multi-age program, but primarily caters to 3–5-year-olds.

I began my journey into the field of childcare in 2013 as a family childcare provider after taking the ‘Good Beginnings’ course. It wasn’t long after that I realized what an investment it would be to obtain my Early Childhood Education Certification. After completing that at Northern Lights College, I quickly became enamored with learning outdoors with children and the Reggio Philosophy. I am passionate about working outside with children and documenting their discoveries, play, and determination. It brings a lot of joy to my work to be able to share with families the learning that takes place through learning stories or video documentation. With some of my free time in the last year, I’ve been mentoring in a program offered by ECE BC called “Learning Outside Together” – a beautiful 32-hour workshop highlighting the benefits of learning outdoors with children.   

Loose part play – what is that?

‘In any environment, both the degree of inventiveness and creativity, and the possibility of discovery, are directly proportional to the number and kind of variables in it.” Simon Nicholson

 The theory of loose parts was coined by an architect named Simon Nicholson in the early 1970’s. Nicholson described loose parts as variables and proposed that everyone has the ability to be creative and inventive – his theory greatly supports autonomy of children and defines loose parts as materials that have no defined use. This means that there are unlimited possibilities to explore the materials.

 Loose part play greatly supports children’s autonomy as they can create their own rules and ideas about their experience and play – a bucket filling activity.

If you are unfamiliar with loose parts, I’ve curated a list to spark some creativity.

Up to down, left to right: Beads, pebbles, sticks, flowers, stones, wooden blocks, pegs, shells, magnets.

Loose parts play encourages open ended learning; the materials can be used alone or alongside other materials. Materials and environments that are open ended (no defined outcome) greatly support the child’s creativity and supports problem solving. You might find that children generally choose loose parts over manufactured toys when given the opportunity. It’s often the joke we hear often around holidays surrounding gifts – the child often really does prefer the box.

Photo taken by Ashley.

Bringing Loose Parts into practice

One of the more beautiful aspects of working with children, primarily outdoors, is that there are loose part materials everywhere you look; imaginations are eager to turn rocks into fish, sticks into magic wands, and fallen leaves into potion. When we are engaging in play in the wild woods, which is often, we never run out of things to do or games to play. We have limitless materials that nature has provided us – and often the most seamless and the most collaborative play. Loose parts aren’t just found outside – they are truly any material that can be moved and used in any way.

There are often periods of time that our preschool group sticks close to home base; times where we are not frolicking into the woods. This is usually dependent on the seasons – living on the wet west coast, we often soak through our rain gear for the first half of the day and enjoy our late afternoons in a different way. This is when we utilize our indoor and outdoor classroom. While we don’t have endless supplies of pinecones and pebbles, I think it’s really important to offer   activities or experience that mimic our play in the forest – a feeling of calm and connectivity. I do this by ensuring the children have the opportunity to stretch their imagination in the same way we do in the forest – with loose parts.

When considering which materials, I’m going to introduce into both our indoor or outdoor classroom, I consider the items ability to mold with the children in both development and creativity. A quality item to us, is an item that develops children’s foundational skills, such as: social and emotional, speech and language, fine and gross motor, and cognitive development.  Ideally, the toy or materials can check off most, if not all of those boxes. It can sound like a big task – which toys or material can possibly do all of that? This is why loose parts should be a big part of your learning environment.

It can feel overwhelming as an educator, parent, or caregiver to    obtain piles of pinecones, napkin rings, wood planks, sticks, pebbles, seashells, and more…and then bringing them indoors. If the concept of loose parts is new to your environment, there is no doubt that it may feel messy and chaotic. I would recommend starting small – you can do this by introducing one material at a time and in smaller quantities. As children become more familiar with loose parts, you will have the pleasure of observing them utilize the materials with more intention and creativity than you could have imagined.

While it is true that you can obtain loose parts often for free by walking the beach or local trail – there are many wonderful resources that can be purchased as well. Wooden rounds, are a beautiful addition to any learning environment. You can utilize them in your sensory bin, for an invitation to play, add them to your building blocks area, or just leave them out and let the children decide if they are cucumber slices, coins, or snails.

I recently invited my group of preschoolers to play with a set of Little Pavers. Often, when first introducing a new material, I just leave the materials out as an open invitation for the children to come and explore them. I try to not influence them in any ways, my own ideas tucked into my pocket.  I was so impressed with the quality of these hexagon shapes – I couldn’t wait to observe how my group would use them. These Little Pavers are a great example of a quality item that supports the developmental needs of a diverse group of children – and an item that can be used in a variety of ways.

The set of Little Pavers comes with a beautiful set of resource cards. The children utilized these as both inspiration and as a base for their building and driving. Along with the Little Paver pieces, the children also gathered other materials from their surroundings including sticks, dump trucks, wooden rounds, the water table, and a large ramp. I observed as the children tested theories, built different structures, engaged in some peer scaffolding, created patterns, communicated effectively, sorted, counted, and many more. Little Pavers can be used in a variety of ways – a must have addition to any loose part collection – the perfect example of the unlimited possibilities that loose parts can bring to child’s play.

As the children had more exposure to this particular loose part material, I observed their creativity bloom with these hexagonal miniature pavers. They were left outdoors and over the course of several days, I noted them being utilized as ice cubes, bricks, fish, dice, and even as steppingstones in an intense game of ‘Floor is Lava’. I am looking forward to observing the play expand and bloom as the seasons change and nature offers us some of its own loose parts to add to this play – fall leaves, ice, snow, muddy paddles – all a sure compliment to this play.

Photo taken by Ashley.

Often, observing the children engaged in such meaningful work, I am struck by how seamless their play – how deep and creative they become when they are playing with open ended materials; how adaptable and receptive they are to their peers’ ideas and thoughts. After ten years working in the field of early childhood education, I sometimes chuckle at the faint memory of the time between my own childhood and adulthood when I thought a stick was just a stick. Ah, the magic we miss out on when we are looking without really seeing.

Author: Ashley Elliott.

Check out Ashley’s review of the product Little Pavers here: Little Pavers, 60 Pieces – YouTube

Teachers, How Are You Doing? 

Another school year is coming to an end. For both students and teachers, this is the time where you feel all kinds of mixed emotions: anxious for the upcoming final period, but at the same time, happy and relieved because it’s almost over… We all experience this feeling in our life, and it’s always fun to sit back, relax, and reflect on the school year together. We asked teachers some questions to reflect on the past school year and here are the responses: 

“What are some things you accomplished this year that you are proud of?” 

“Teaching a new grade!” 

“Did some great training on difficult behaviors in the classroom.” 

“Helped advocated for some children in my care who needed extra help. Helped progress 3 students into early reading stage.” 

“My Kindergarten class wrote and published a book. Not only is it my goal to teach and mentor students to be the best versions of themselves but to also teach them to love themselves, grow confidence so that they can advocate for themselves and others.  

I think it is of the utmost importance to teach positive character traits from a young age- teach them, model them, and EXPECT THEM. I have high expectations for my learners (even if they are only in kindergarten) but I do my due diligence to ensure they are equipped with the strategies, resources and support they need to succeed.” 

“Making connections with tough students” 


Therapy can help teachers to effectively set boundaries with students, colleagues, and parents. It makes educators more patient and understanding, identify and manage the sources of their stress.   

“What is the biggest challenge you have faced this year? How did you get through it?” 

“Tough student. Support from co-worker. ” 

“Short staffing, being able to use staff from the office with the training helps! we work together!” 

“Other than many staffing changes & challenges, as a team our biggest challenge was supporting unexpected behaviour needs and diversity, including significantly more language delays than we’ve seen in the past.” 

“Kept my energy level up while running my own preschool, training for running race and raising my 3 1/2yr old daughter!” 

“Time …. never enough time in a day. Organized stuff to try to fit all into a day. ” 

All my resources and materials were either what I purchased or what past families donated to me. 6 weeks into school my class grew to a full class (23 with an ECE). I had to fight for appropriate chairs, search high and low for tables and was extremely thankful for applying for a flexible seating grant 5 years ago so that I had enough seating for my growing class. After many requests and the support of my Vice Principal, I received a light table and a few materials that my students enjoy. We are a class family who love and support one another. We get creative with our space and appreciate what we have.” 

Don’t you just love hearing stories like this 😊 

“Being physically attacked by students. Giving myself time for self-care and taking mental health days” 

“There have been a few hurdles this year… my classroom initially started as an Under 16 class (where it was myself and 15 students). My classroom allocation was a tiny room that was originally used for a class of 8.  

Reading these stories makes us understand more about educators’ unheard hardships. Teachers, you are incredible!  

“What is something you tried in your classroom this year for the first time? How did it go?” 

“Baby photos of the children and guess who is who, it was sooo fun! The school agers loved it!” 

Ha! We also played this game in Quality Classrooms. It was so fun! 

“We’ve used visual cues, visual schedules & transition objects before, but we relied on them very heavily this year to support diversity & inclusion. ” 

“We celebrated the author Frank Asch by having a pancake in his Pajamas day! It was a huge success, and the kids still talk about it. ” 

“Puff paint with shave cream” 

“This year I have started taking my class outside for 30 minutes (regardless of weather conditions). I call this “Outdoor Explore” we do things from just using our imaginations to play, going for walks, gardening, exploring the pond and creek around us etc. I feel this is a great way to start our day by waking up our minds and embracing nature around us. ” 

Outdoor Learning is the best! Oh, and by the way, here’s our blog about outdoor learning. 

“What is one way that you grew professionally this year?” 

“I learned about shared writing. ” 


Credit: Bored Teachers

“I think I grew in my ability to create and maintain positive relationships with a variety of parents whose expectations and communication styles are very different.” 

“I feel this year I have become much more flexible. My space may be tiny. My chairs and tables may be old and mismatched but the kiddos that have created my class family are still full of wonder, excitement, and their own passion to learn. I have been flexible with my schedule, my class dynamics, my expectations of myself. I have learned that I can adjust to change and be just as flexible as our students are with us. ” 

“Working with AAC technology” 

“I stepped into a management role with little notice. As a result, my scope grew and my perspective on supporting the family (and not just the child) grew with it.” 

“What are some useful items you have in the classroom?” 

“Loose parts, dice, Math manipulatives” 


“pens, crayons, scissors, see through storage!” 

The Totes are sized perfectly for larger, bulk items and are see-through to help easily identify the contents. 

“Manipulative visual schedules, multiples of everything, cozy calm corners, open-ended wooden toys” 

Full length mirror” 

Name writing practice cards” 

“Dish washing station”  

Nice markers” 

Enough washable markers for the entire class. Sturdy storage box with 6 convenient, re-usable desktop bins for easy distribution and storage.  

”Mini chalk boards”  

Save paper by using a time-tested and reusable writing surface. Green chalkboards are the perfect size to store in students’ desks or notebooks. 

“Book library and child’s couch” 

Literacy Couch, Wheat: This compact reading couch is perfect for small spaces. Generous book slots hold a multitude of books while the three, included clear Tubs are great for housing literacy items and toys.  

“Markers, pencil crayons crayons paper …. any art supply ” 

Big box of Art Material  

“Flexible seating”  

Cozy Woodland Sit-Arounds. Includes Deep Water Blue, Sky Blue, Sage, Green, Walnut and Almond. 

ErgoErgo An extraordinary seating concept combining the benefits of active sitting with a bold contemporary design. After sitting on ErgoErgo, ordinary chairs seem…well, just ordinary.  

Light Table”  

Multi-function activity table saves valuable classroom space. Use as a tracing table, or with any light table accessory. The LED lights are energy friendly an built to last (rated for 50,000 hours). 

Pocket calendar, sensory swing, kinetic sand” 

“What items do you wish to have in the new school year? And why?” 

Puzzles for a quiet choice time” 

“New outdoor tricycles and 3-wheeled scooters to add to our collection; a tough tray for new types of investigations; a new Preschool Play Kitchen.” 

Tilo Three Wheeled Scooter: Tilo’s quality and safety standards allow children the freedom to experience the joy of motion, the confidence of speed and the adventure of exploration. Features include high quality steel bearings, powder coated steel frame and thermoplastic polyurethane wheels.

Young Time Play Kitchen Set Let your children create their own recipes for imaginative play with this four-piece kitchen set. Includes a refrigerator, sink, stove, and cupboard.  

Blocks, time to renew!” 

“Everything ” 

Ahhh, don’t we all? 

Antique weight scale to learn about weight.” 

“Flags of the world to expand the geographic section and interest.”  

“Outdoor wooden building blocks because we had these in my last school, and they were amazing!” 

“More assortment of art supplies” 

Puppet Theatre (I made one out of a cardboard box but would love something a bit sturdier) 

Puppets (for imaginative play) 

Unit Bricks (100 pieces) (STEM purposes) 

Sand/Water Table (I have so many ideas that would incorporate so many learning opportunities) 

Glue, Pencils, Crayons, Markers, Construction paper (these are things I had to buy with my own money this past year several times and it really adds up) 

Magna Tiles  

Tranquil Trees area rug (we don’t have a rug so they sit on the floor which can be extremely uncomfortable for them)” 

This tabletop puppet theater lets a child’s imagination take center stage. Roll up the velvet curtain to start the show. Roll it closed after the grand finale. Flip the reversible backdrop for an enchanted kingdom or a brilliant sunrise. Assembles in seconds for instant show time.  

Tranquil Trees Rug Happy little trees will be a fun and welcoming addition to any room or learning space! 

Sand & Water Table Economical sand and water units are designed to be durable as well as attractive. Good quality taps, clear lid and a heavy-duty metal frame. 

“Lego, art supplies, loose parts to foster creativity and free exploration with students.” 

“What is your favorite moment from this school year so far?” 

“Community walks” 

“Seeing the blossoming friendships of our young learners; watching new teams come together in supportive ways; hearing families discuss their pride & joy in their children’s learning.” 

“Too many to list! each day has an awesome moment!” 

Good to hear! 

“Probably just laughing with a student when they said something funny. ” 

“Every day …always something new with each day ” 

“Successful field trips” 

“I have a student in my class that is select mute. He is the smartest little guy that has the most contagious smile. This year I have really focused on teaching my little kiddos to self-advocate, using their voice. This little guy may seem like he isn’t paying attention, but he is always listening. One day this past month I was getting him ready to go home and he said in the quietest little voice “I don’t want to” and proceeded to take his backpack off. He won’t say his name. He won’t say my name. We have figured out our own way to communicate with thumbs up/down. But the day I heard his little voice say he didn’t want to go home just melted my heart. He has not said anything since then, but I remind him that I know he has brilliant ideas and heard him speak once before- he just smiles at me. It was rewarding to hear that he didn’t want to go home for the reason I assume is because he enjoys being at school- my goal is to make each of my learners love school and want to be here… made me feel I accomplished that a little bit. ” 

Now that’s a great story to end the blog 😊 

Thank you so much to all the teachers who participated in this questionnaire! Teachers, we hope you all have a great rest of the school year and build more memories with your students. You have done an amazing job! 

Tips for Outdoor Learning in Spring: Interview with Dr. Beverlie Dietze

Quality Classrooms had the opportunity to interview Dr. Beverlie Dietze, for her input on playing outdoors in Spring, as well as her unique view on outdoor learning. You can read this blog and watch the interview for more interesting discussions. Quality Classrooms will also have a webinar with Beverlie soon in May. Stay tuned for more updates!

Toai (Quality Classrooms): 

Hello, everyone! I am Toai, the new host of the Quality Classrooms talk show. Well, I’m not officially a host yet, but if I do well in this interview, I will soon have my own talk show! My guest today is Dr. Beverlie Dietze. She is a researcher, author and educator who’s specialized in outdoor play. Today we’ll talk about why Spring is a great time to get outside and do some outdoor learning activities! For the new listeners, can you please introduce yourself? 


Sure, and thank you so much for this opportunity. I am Beverlie Dietze, a researcher, and more importantly, I’m passionate about supporting educators, families, and children to engage in many experiences that will follow their sense of curiosity, and wonderment outdoors. So that’s my whole focus – how can we support advancing new ways of experimentation and that sense of wonderment outdoors. 

Learn more about Dr. Beverlie Dietze and her work here 



As we know, Spring is here! The days are longer, warmer, the snow is melting, the grass is growing. The environment just looks so inviting, like it’s asking us to come outside and play. This is great because in the winter, the cold, extreme weather usually discourages us from going outside. From your experience, what are the benefits of outdoor learning after a season change? 


It is important to know that children require opportunities to play in all seasons, so we can support children in understanding new information about the environment. Example: To experience the sense of snow on their cheeks; the raindrops falling; the flowers,… Children can see the puddle and run through that puddle, make it splash. Then, they can learn what kind of body movement is required to get the big splashes versus smaller splashes, and the ripple effect.  

So, when we think about Spring in particular, this is the time when you want to pause and ask the children to look at the sky. What do they see? How is the sun different from what it may have been in the winter? What do they see on the trees? What do they smell? What do they hear? Are they beginning to see those bugs come and go? And if so, what are those bugs? 

This is the time when children should see a renewal in life. They may see plants that are coming, they may see those fresh flowers that are coming to people’s gardens. It really is a time to support the children in advancing their interests, their desire, and their abilities to draw upon previous information that they know of seasons and bring in new information. When I think about children and getting them outdoors, this is the time when you want to have magnifying glasses always in your pockets so children can take them out and just imagine what they see. It is when you want children to touch and feel the grass or the bushes to engage in that piece, when you want to support children in skipping and engage in body movements. Spring is a time when you really want to support children in being able to move and to experience the cold because at times it’s still going to be cold! They may still find ice on the paddles. 


Here in Winnipeg, for sure you can experience the cold! 

A baby enjoying Spring in Winnipeg.



I’ve read your blogs and I’m very impressed by the recommendations for activities for outdoor play you came up with. You list the benefits of the activities, you back up with scientific sources, citations, and sometimes even examples from your own experience. Do you have any recommendations for activities to do in spring? 


When we think about children in play, we want to look at their space and place. As adults, our role is to offer children the materials that will provoke their thinking. So as opposed to suggesting activities, what we really want to do is to work with the children to see what they’re interested in, and then support the children in pursuing that. When we think of children, and the first time they see a worm, what are they going to do? They will ask “Where are the digging materials? I need something to dig, I need to see if I can find more worms.” So, they find the worms and then they’ll wonder again “What am I going to do with these worms? Ah, I really want to watch these worms!” So that’s when you have the worm containers. That’s when you have the books that will support the children in thinking about those pieces. When you think about children and tricycles, we’re not going to say “Today, let’s go on your tricycles”.  You’re going to put the tricycles in some very interesting spaces, and then see what the children do with them.  

For me, it’s not about “Here are the activities that we will do”, but rather how can we be a facilitator of opportunity that will really trigger that sense of curiosity with the children. Therefore, it’s the support materials that we put nearby that will lead children to put this piece of information together with this, and then they move into a process that we call ideation – “Oh, I see this, I could do this with this”. And then you can see that the play will go on in very unique and innovative ways. 


We usually think of “what activities to do in this kind of season”. But from your answer, I learn that…just let children go outside! And then whenever they like something, we will be there to support them in exploring that further. And of course, having the necessary materials nearby will facilitate their imagination, and the inspiration to let them go and do more activities. Great answer!  

Instead of thinking “what activities”, we should consider “how can we inspire them?”



With the advancement of technology, children have more options to entertain themselves. They don’t even need to go outside to find entertainment. Today, outdoor learning has to compete against video games, movies, and other forms of entertainment. How do you encourage children to go outside and learn? 


The key is to have role models for the children, and with the children. If I am an adult, and I want my children to really embrace the outdoor environment, I have to illustrate how important that is to me, I have to talk about the beauty of the season with the children. I want to build that sense of wonder, so that the children do want to go out. It starts with the adults in the children’s lives. 

 If you have children that are really connected to that technology, then as an adult, we have to say, how can we start to support the child in building that love for outdoor play and at the same time, have the opportunity to use that technology? If we have little munchkins – as I like to call them with a term of endearment, if we have them hooked on technology, get them out to find things! Geocaching is a very important way in which we can get children to use their technology and at the same time, tromping through the woods, going from one street to another in a neighborhood to try and find those items. If children have the ability to use camera, or whatever tools they can to document what they are seeing, have the children take those tools outside and say, “We’re going to find five trees that have different bark on them!” And then we’re going to take the photos so that we remember and then we can come back and talk about that. That’s how we trigger children to actually redefine how they can connect outdoors. Remember, we all have a very important role in supporting the children in building that love of outdoors, from an environmental stewardship perspective, from a climate change perspective, on from the notion of how we are going to build sustainable opportunities within the environments in which we live. We take it one step at a time. Again, we try to figure out what the children are interested in. And then how can we connect that with the outdoors?  


So instead of fighting technology for the children’s attention, like “Okay, you shouldn’t be on your phone anymore, go outside and play”, your solution is that we should try to incorporate technology (or whatever children are into) with outdoor play. It will inspire children to go outside and expand more. Then they’ll fall in love with the outdoor environment. 


Just to expand on that. So, we’re always trying to trigger children’s curiosity, right? Going back to the example that I had of the trees, if I knew which five trees, I was going to have the children actually take photos off, I would also have baskets of intriguing materials there. So that they’ll take the photos, but they also look at the baskets to see what is there. So, again, you’re trying to enhance or entice them to see the world from multiple lenses, and from the perspective of how they may deviate from that technology to really embrace that open ended opportunity. 

More on the importance of language in outdoor learning in the interview

Trigger children’s curiosity!



What are some characteristics of the Spring weather and environment that educators can utilize to give children a great outdoor learning experience?  


There are just so many! The puddles, of course. The new sticks that children find because during the winter, that’s mother nature’s way of trimming the trees. There is the sense of mud. And then there are pinecones. They provide opportunities to bring math and science into the outdoor space.  

When we think about Spring, it is looking, feeling the rain and the wind. Sometimes we’ll think “Oh, it’s too windy for the children.” Now, we want the children to feel, and think about that. I often provide children with umbrellas. I look at umbrellas as a scientific marvel for children, not only because children have to put them up and down and utilize the mechanism to get them to stand out, but also the imaginary play that occurs with an umbrella. The moment that they have umbrellas outdoors and it’s raining, then music comes to their mind! Tip, tap, top, you know, whatever is happening to the umbrella. It’s that sense of I can be Mary Poppins outdoors on a windy day. Right?  

So just looking at what is beneficial in your environment and then not stopping the children – that’s the key piece. Yes, it might be a little chilly for us as adults. Maybe we don’t want to go out.  “Is the wind going to cause our hair to blow all over?”. However, we want the children to experience that. We want them to connect with all aspects of the weather conditions. Let them have their snack outdoors with the sun shining on their face, so they can see and feel the heat of the sun. There isn’t one particular thing that I can identify. It’s to observe, and then act upon whatever those gifts of nature are within the local community. 

Let children connect with all aspects of the environment.



What are some must-have outdoor toys?  For example, tricycles,…


Sure, tricycles are important. Children want to be carrying things. So, they need buckets. They need shovels, because we want them to have instruments that they can engage in the mud on. They need things to cart items from one spot to another. I also believe that there should be wagons in space. I always like to put moving dollies, so that children can utilize those items, or that piece of apparatus to move one thing to another. I want children to have opportunities to have lots of wood. So certainly, put the blocks into the space. When you have wood, you will also think about planks, or pieces of plywood so that children can embrace those pieces. Where is it that the children can have that creative moment? Whether it’s in our diesel, or on paper, or on a piece of plywood, where are those opportunities? 

 Mirrors are absolutely vital during the Spring, because they’re the opportunity to reflect. It’s when we put mirrors near trees that are just starting to bud and then the children are engaged in utilizing that as an experience of science and wonderment. It helps them to solidify what the shadow is and how shadows are created. So, we also want to offer unique, innovative materials that are going to advance children’s sense of “I wonder if” “I wonder what happens”. 

We sometimes forget the importance of having baskets of books outside. When we think about what we like to do as adults, it can be very joyful to take a book outside, look at it and experience it. Well, that would be very similar to children! I always like to put great big boots outside that children can slip in. If you can get men’s large boots and have those outside, then it adds a new dimension. Children put their feet in and then when they’re trying to move, we’re advancing their physical activity. Certainly, there should be items for them to climb on. Whatever those items are, whether it’s a structured piece of play apparatus, or tree stumps that they can move, they need to be able to make decisions about moving their bodies in unique ways.  

When I think about outdoor play and Spring, I would also look at what tools to have. If there are bushes in the play space, you can begin to support children in understanding the importance of pruning in the Spring and bring that experience to the children. So, we want to have gardening materials. Do you have gloves? And do you know those kinds of tools so that they can embrace their environment that way as well? 


It’s more about looking at the environment and see “With this environment, what tools can I put that will encourage children’s sense of exploration, and curiosity?” Understanding the materials helps too – today I learned about the importance of books in outdoor play! 

Adventure time!



From your experience working with different childcare, and you see how they operate outdoor play, do you have any suggestions on how to organize great outdoor plays? 


Well, I think that when we examine outdoor learning, it has to start with the adults. You have to develop that sense of passion. That is the key piece to this, particularly adults that are working in early learning and childcare programs, because they are incredible influencers of the experiences that children engage. Another point is to understand that children need elements that are going to trigger their curiosity. So, it can’t be the same space with the same materials on a daily basis, you want to add some unique pieces of materials, and you want to put those materials in places that you normally wouldn’t think children would look for. What happens when you put paper around the trunk of the tree, and then have children engage in an art experience there? It’s very different from them working on a flat by easel. You want to be looking at the attributes of the space, and then how you can add new opportunities there.  

Where is it that children can have that dramatic play experience? Dramatic play is more than a housekeeping center. It should expand into all kinds of opportunities for children to use their imagination, because that imaginary play then influences their language and their literacy skills later. So, we really need to do some brainstorming and say, “what do we want the children to experience?”. If this is what we want the children to experience, then what are the gaps in our current practice? And then how might we be able to facilitate new ways of thinking and doing to provide new options for the children? 


Great. And with that, I conclude our interview today! Thank you, Beverlie, for some great points. We’ve learned so much about the importance of role models, and how we inspire children to fall in love with outdoor play. Thank you for your time, and for the listener, have a great Spring ahead! 

We had a great time talking! I missed the opportunity to say: “It’s time to SPRING outside for some outdoor play”, so here is another Spring joke: 

How excited was the gardener about Spring? So excited he wet his plants!