Wednesday, 9 July 2014

A visit to Boulder Sunflower Preschool.

Yesterday I had the pleasure of visiting  Sunflower Preschool Boulder and being shown around by its director Debbie King Ellman (You can check out the preschool on FB by clicking here).

After two weeks in Boulder it is easy to understand the need for shade... it is HOT here in the sun, but I find the shade quite cool - so understandably the children and teachers follow the shade in their garden during the day. The garden is filled with shady spots, so its not too difficult to find a playful spot out of the hot sun.

Unlike the LONG winter that we get in Sweden (I don't think I will ever really get used to that) the winter's here are relatively short - which means the outdoor spaces can be fully utilised year round (I am not saying the don't in sweden, but there ARE limitations when the ground and sand freezes like cement for a large portion of the year, and when mittens and chunky winter clothing limits young children... especially during the younger years when SO much learning comes through the sense of touch through their hands etc - so I am VERY envious of the climate here - especially as they DO get snow and ice, it's just not for so long).... anyway back to Sunflower Preschool.

During the summer the indoor facilities are little used... the children are outside nearly all day... and the outdoor play/learning area has everything the indoors has and then some...

It is divided up in areas just as many preschool setting are inside... with role-play, art, construction, water-play, nature/science exploration - and then of course there are swings, climbing frames, lots of nature to explore, a huge sandbox... etc

I took a whole load of photos... and have chosen 10 to share with this post (OK, I cheated a little by creating 2 collages... but there was just so much I wanted to share...)

I have just sharing one image of the indoors, for now, as this post is all about the outdoors... that is the real energy I got from Debbie, her love for plants and sharing this with the children...

the decking immediately outside - today it was set up with water play

here is a view looking at the decking from the garden... many items have been gifts or donations from the families. Just under the window you can see the drinking fountain... I have found them in just about every playground I have visited so far. Keeping hydrated is important when its hot and dry.

the outdoor storage was designed so that it could also be a stage/storage for dress up. The balancing beam also doubles as seating for the audience...

looking from the decking onto the nature/science area and the table for arts and crafts - in the background you can see the berry bushes... many of the plants are edible, most of the plants can be used one way or another during the year to enable the children to develop an appreciation for nature and a desire to protect it.

The construction area - nicely shaded. Debbie likes how the outdoors allows children to leave their constructions for longer, allowing them to develop, and the need to pack things away to enabling cleaning is not needed as it is indoors. I totally agree... although I am quite sure that many preschools in Sweden, that share their yards with the public in the evenings and on weekends would have also experienced the frustration of constructions not surviving particularly long outdoors either...
Behind the construction area was another area for construction - with much bigger pieces of wood, timber, stones etc for the children to create - the messy area... at the moment the children had created what looked like a dry creek.

an area for role-play - lots of camping and hiking in the mountains play

Looking back onto the garden with the role-play area behind me - a small bridge takes the children over to the main garden and the enormous sandbox, including a system for collecting rainwater

Next to the role play area, on the lawn was a small pool, warming up in the sun

Throughout the outdoor space there was lots of plants... for eating and also to help nature - bees and butterflies - for instance milkweed was allowed to grow so that the monarch butterfly had stop-over places to feed and rest on their long migration. The garden continued in the front of the preschool too, where the children were able to visit and learn more about the plants and their uses.
Many thanks to Sunflower Preschool Boulder for allowing me to visit and spending time with me.
This is my first post... I am quite sure there will be more as i have more time to reflect on the experience...

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing, it's always great to get a chance to 'look' around other settings & glean some new ideas.