Jan White Natural Play

Natural Play, Natural Growth, in the Early Years

Outdoor Play in Winter? Go for it! New article: Making the most of outdoor play through the wonderful season of winter, Early Years Update, Issue 95, Feb 2012 p8-10

7 Comments

Connecting the with real world

With the recent icy conditions across the UK, this article is very timely! Here is an excerpt to tempt you outside – the whole article, full of exciting prompts, is in this month’s Early Years Update

Winter might feel like a difficult time of year to provide enjoyable and effective outdoor play.  In fact, winter in Britain is a truly exciting and intriguing time of year, with many provocations and contexts for enquiry, play and discussion.  The outdoors in winter provides great stimulus for rich, playful learning and children must have plenty of access every day in order to have relevant, hands-on experiences that build deep understandings about their world.  We have a duty not to miss the superb potential for sensory experience, enquiry, discovery, and meaning-making that being outside in winter provides.  Young children who are developing so rapidly and who need to be outside must not be kept indoors, waiting for ‘good’ weather!

Effective provision capitalises upon what is unique and special about the outdoor environment, which is greatly enriched by the cycle of our seasons.  Young children are intensely interested in the world around them, so focusing on making the most of what the outdoors has to offer in each season gives practitioners the ability to provide experiences that are authentic, meaningful and powerful.  Take some time to consider together what is special about the outdoors and being outdoors in winter.  Keep in mind that the children’s perceptions and interests are more important than adult preconceptions.

Over the course of the winter months, as a collaboration between children, parents and all the staff, gather good words related to the experiences, sensations and emotions of winter – perhaps on a ‘winter alphabet wall’ outdoors.   This collection will bring great awareness of just how much winter in the outdoor world holds, and focus attention on what children are really intrigued or inspired by during this wonderful season.

An alphabet for winter

A – adventure, active, action…

B – bare earth, bare trees, branches, birds, blanket, burrow, black, brown, buds, bulbs, beacon…

C – candle, cosy, cave, cold, coats…

D – dark, damp, decorate…

E – evergreen, earth…

F – firelight, frost, fog, flocking, footprints, fallow, freezing/melting…

G – gloves, grey, ground, garlands…

H – home, hibernation, hats, holes…

I   – ice, icicles, igloo…

J – jump, junctions…

K – kick…

L – lights, lantern, lamps…

M – mud, mixing, mud-pies, moon…

N – nesting, night…

O – owl…

P – puddles, pattern…

Q – questions, quiet…

R – rain, roosting…

S – sunset, sparkle, stars, sticks and stones, squelch, sky, snow, snowdrops, storm, surfaces, skeletons, shapes, scarves…

T – torch, texture, tracks…

U – underground, uncovered…

V – velvet, vapour trails…

W – warm, wood, waves, white, wet, waiting, wreath…

X – crossing – junctions, connections…

Y – yawn…

Z – sleep…

Thanks to Sightline Initiative’s fabulous Early Learning in Nature (ELiN) project for this image demonstrating unrestrained enquiry and possibility.

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7 thoughts on “Outdoor Play in Winter? Go for it! New article: Making the most of outdoor play through the wonderful season of winter, Early Years Update, Issue 95, Feb 2012 p8-10

  1. Jan, I just re-posted this on the Cedarsong Nature School facebook page. LOVE all your creative ideas for getting children outdoors in all weather! Thank you for the work you do…..Erin Kenny

  2. Loving this Jan – the ABC is a fab idea, and as always your stuff is lively and accessible as well as being authoritative. Keep ’em coming!

  3. You and your readers might enjoy these wonderful flickr photos of winter playgrounds – http://bit.ly/sckWRv

    • thanks Alex – your blogsite has much of interest too from the playspace perspective – lots to follow up on. PS I love the Sketchy ‘I’ll get the ice creams’ link!

  4. Pingback: Another Month Closer | Manitoba Nature Summit

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