Saturday, 27 July 2013

Outdoor water play inspiration...

opportunities for water play have been built into the grounds at Acorn School - the stones mark out a stream - its dry bed now but with added water/rain it will flow... and the water table for some playing, mixing etc
 And now I am turning my attention to the photos showing water-play opportunities outside. It is something that I saw at both preschools - The Acorn School (AS) and Boulder Journey School (BJS). Playing with water is something that I valued greatly as a child - in the ditch making mud pies at the bottom of the garden or using stones and mud to dam streams (if I am entirely honest that part of my childhood has not ceased to exist... on a holiday to France in the early years of my marriage my husband was somewhat surprised to see me making stone towers and damming the mountain streams... he soon got over it though and joined me...)

I gather from talking with locals in Boulder that it does not rain much there... so waiting for the weather to create mud and other such conditions could be a long long wait (in a way like in Sweden during the winter the mud play disappears as the surface freezes hard - and not al years are blessed with snow to play with...) - so with dry baked earth in Boulder it is important to add water to the outdoor environment to create muddy puddles and other water play...

Again the surface nerd in me that has well and truly escaped has enjoyed seeing how water play is not for a specific surface - that by having water play available on a variety of surfaces allows the children to observe the variety of behaviours of water as it comes in contact with the surfaces - will it run, will it follow grooves, will it just absorb etc etc

water tap available on both sides of the wall - the walls and gate are there so that groups can work on outdoor experiments in small groups without being disturbed, and often the gates are open so that there is collaboration between groups - all group-rooms had their own doorway to the outdoor-play area so the children were free to go in and out as they pleased... (AS)

a view of the dry river bed just begging to be filled with water and for adventures to begin!! (AS)

what equipment you offer the children also influences how they will interact with the water - of course pipes etc can be used for more than just water... (AS)

here the water play is on a gravel surface and is a variety of containers and pipes for the children to experiment with (BJS)

close by is sand and a kitchen - perfect to take water from the other area to create mud pies and other potions... (BJS)

Sometimes water play can be more gentle - sitting in the shade watching coloured ice melt and slowly spooning over the coloured water into clear water to see what happens - again the visual joy of so many different surfaces is very pleasing, and the shade really adds to the whole experience - the rounded organic shade of the tree compared to the lined shade of the roofing... (BJS)

a close up of the previous water -play/experiment area - the choice to have just metal equipment here is aesthetically pleasing... will also affect the sound of the water... (BJS)

use of an old slide to create a waterplay/experiment feature - a more sandy surface (got into my sandals ALL the time - personally I would want to be barefoot here or with shoes where the sand would not irritate my feet - my feet are like many children I know who are constantly at the edge of the sandbox emptying their shoes) (BJS)

so its not just about WHAT equipment you have on offer, but also how it is stored. When I see this I get so envious that Sweden would not allow for such boxes without lids - with the amount of snow and rain we got - BUT it is about taking this idea and working out how we can create something that works for US in our weather, with our circumstances and with our children... (BJS)

another view of the slide - I really wished I had played with this now to see how it worked, but as a visitor I was not sure if turning on the taps was an options - it would be fun if the BJS could do an outdoor workshop in coming summer schools where the outdoor areas can be played with - especially as the "messing around" idea comes from David Hawkins... but more about David Hawkins in another post.... (BJS)

to have so much water play requires lots of hosepipe!! (BJS)

another dry river bed and there are watering cans hanging there - as they have had a gardening project... (BJS)

water-play was not restricted to the preschools - in the middles of the main shopping street in Boulder there was water play - and it was always well used every time I went by - I also liked the fact there was a similar water-play area next to the Wholefoods supermarket...

of course water play does not require lots of equipment and fancy designed outdoor play areas... the preschool I work at does not have its own outdoor play-space - we use the square, the parks and the nearby forest as our play-space. Here is an example of ice and water play on the square... (Filosofiska)

the simple pleasure of water and brushes to create temporary artworks on the ground - this is when the surface can really influence the way you work - concrete create easy "paintings" but the children still marvelled at how the water flowed along the cracks - what would happen on gravel, grass, mud, wood etc etc? (Filosofiska)

of course the local parks here in Stockholm often have some form of water play opportunities - here my children are taking full advantage of that... 

water-play in nature can mean up-close encounters with new friends... (Filosofiska)

mud play needs nothing more than dirt and water - and then what ever equipment you desire to encourage play/experimentation... here we took the children onto the square using sensory tables and a big box full of mud... (Filosofiska)

as you see, not having a outdoor-play does NOT mean you are limited - it just challenges your imagination - you have to be more creative to provide the opportunities for the children... and once you have thought of them... often they are not that complicated.... (Filosofiska)

rain can really offer some of the best water play outside - just to allow the children to see the water droplets on a bench and to draw pictures with them and then wipe them away and watch the water swoosh off the bench... (Filosofiska)

of course that first access to water outside after a long frozen winter is VERY special... and this is proof its NEVER too cold for water play!!!!  (Filosofiska)

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