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Over the past few months, Creative STAR have used the revenue from its activities, the adverts on this website and I'm a teacher, get me OUTSIDE here! blog to create a number of outdoor clothing boxes which can be freely borrowed by local schools and nurseries. More information can be found here.
For school and settings further afield, there is an outdoor clothing advice page. If you belong to an organisation that would like to create or host a Try Before You Buy box in your local area, please contact Juliet.
What do you look for in a wood?
This latest blog post on I'm a teacher get me OUTSIDE here! is all about the play potential of a woodland area. We look at St Paul's Forest Kindergarten site and the idea of thinking about the affordance of a place and the availablity of loose parts.
I love attending a course, conference or workshop where I meet others and learn new tricks. When I was on the International Skogsmulle course in August, I had one of those moments. The sort of moment where you are left wondering why on earth you hadn't thought of that before.
I used to make Tarzan type of swings with the rope attached to the centre of the swing. However do you see the simplicity of this swing? It's far easier to make and use. I leave the rope trailing from one end so that the children can use it to pull each other on the swing.
Now to add to the comfort levels, one child who used this decided it wasn't comfy enough and wrapped his red sit-upon seat (see yesterday's blog post) around the stick and then sat upon it.
The best ideas are definitely shared...
Last term, as part of a P1 Skogsmulle session, we built some stick seats. We began with nice big sticks and then piled on increasingly smaller sticks. As you can see we used a criss-cross design to keep plenty of holes in there for the air to get in. Eventually we ended up putting on leaves and other less pokey material. We didn't put moss on as there is a strict collection code in Scotland. Also moss holds water. Lots of it. So it can be a very wet seat if moss is used.
Sadly there wasn't a lot of dry material around on that day. We were outside just after a wet spell. So the children, who always have really good ideas, decided the stick seat would be much more comfortable with a few sit-upon-seats. We did the arm test to make sure the seat was suitably thick enough. To do this you have to thrust your arm into the middle of the seat. If the brashings come up to your elbow then the seat has enough depth. A good fun natural measuring activity for these children.
If you work in a UK primary or nursery setting, then you are in luck. Your establishment should have received the brand new second edition of the Cosy Catalogue. This is exciting enough in itself as it's full of lots of loose parts and open-ended resources. There should also be a free A3 poster "Everybody Needs a Stone". This was a collaborative effort between Cosy and Creative STAR.
Stones are special to me. I am lousy on the identification front and always have been. But I like the idea, that one can hold a lump of desert sandstone and imagine the time when Scotland was situated around where the Saraha now lies, 270 million years ago. Stones make me realise what little wisps of time and spirit we actually are in the whole of everything. There is something inherently solid, connecting and evocative about stones. Everybody Needs a Stone.
Please phone 01332 987005 for a catalogue you can't find it in your school or setting.
Just over a year ago, I had a bracing winter's walk on Crosby Beach where Antony Gormley's sculpture Another Place can be seen along a two-mile stretch of the sands. About 100 cast-iron replicas of the artist's body can be seen. They all face out to see but some are sunk deeper into the sand and some are closer to the sea. This variation adds interest to the beach walk.
What I like are the questions that spring to mind when you see this sculpture. It can be fun to simply stand beside one of the figures and look out to sea. What you are seeing is what the sculptures will see. It's a chance for children to stop, look and just be.
If you have ever read the book Papillon, the author escapes from an island where he is a prisoner by watching the waves. He realises that every 7th wave is extra big and has the power to pull him out to the ocean in the right tidal conditions. This possibility has stuck with me ever since. Is every 7th wave slightly larger than the rest? Is there any pattern to wave formation and landing on the beach?
The next time you find yourself in another place on a beach, check this theory out.
With the best will in the world it can be hard to stop a child from tasting snow. Like so many incidents, it happens in a split second. Despite a reminder before going outside, I think the temptation was too much for this child. He had been catching snowflakes on his tongue, which is an absorbing activity and the obvious next step for this guy was to taste a bigger sample! As it was clean, fresh snow I was not unduly worried. It had been yellow... well that's another story.
I'm sure most of us ate snow as children too. But I'm interested to know your thoughts about this. For me, it typifies how teachers and pre-school practitioners can be made to feel like they are inadequate. Common sense tells us that the risks are low. But we are also responsible for the well-being of children in our care. We talk about children needing to experience "a knot in their stomach" in terms of the need for risk. But sometimes practitioners have their own stomachs so tied in knots that it hurts!