Friday, 28 February 2014

Outdoor Play Party - A visit to Bear Woods.

Last year children, parents & staff came together to plant over 300 trees on a grassy bank in the main school with the intention of created a wild area that will eventually become a woodland. On the day when we ran out of space on the main grassy bank, it was decided to spread out beyond the gates and onto a small, sloping bank above the nursery. 
In the summer term the class enjoyed going up to play on this area when it was full of daisies, buttercups & long grass. I then asked if this little area could be fenced off just for the nursery class to use on a regular basis, it was perfect for us as we didn't need access to the main school to use it. 
The area all fenced off ready for us to use.
Our wonderful caretaker put up a lovely fence & we decorated the fence with coloured circles, bunting, mirrors & posters.
In the first term we used the space on a monthly basis & very quickly the children named it 'Bear Woods'.
Mirrors & posters add interest to the area.

Peter from An Creagán, who helped us with the tree planting made us a wonderful sign for the area & this term we have been going up to the space once a week. The patch of 'woods' is just up the hill behind the nursery & accessed by a tarmac road used only by delivery vehicles. When the children get to the bottom of this road they can run on ahead until the reach the gate that has a red circle on it. 
Then they wait for an adult to open the gate - they have got into the habit of shouting 'Bear Woods' as if it opens the gate - when they are running ahead so excited you would think they were going to an amazing playground! They love playing in this natural space & over the past few months we have added some resources - Bottle Babies, mirror balls, plastic food, sticks, Rock Babies, plastic trucks & buses & a rope ladder. We do hope to add a permanent shelter at some point in the year & are also hoping that is he has time when he visits Martin from Highway Farm Activity Centre may add a small mud kitchen. 
Some weeks we take a small snack or hot chocolate. We can spend up to an hour up there depending on the weather as we have discovered that because it is on top of the hill it is a lot colder that the sheltered nursery playground but we are hoping to have our first Birthday party up there next week.
The area is one gradual slope that peters out at one end and the children love rolling down the slope or rolling the mirror balls down it. The skills they are developing by walking on an incline will be of great benefit to them when the move onto the more sedentary environment of the primary school.
It's not a rope ladder - it's a roller coaster!
It is lovely to see seasonal changes & the small trees are starting to get some buds & catkins. It will be great to see this area in the summer term when the children will be able to do all the simple things that many of us did as children - making daisy chains, portions with flowers etc. and hiding in the long grass. I imagine we will be able to spend whole mornings up there having fun in a safe yet stimulating environment.
In the last OPP there were 40 great posts linked up with loads of inspiration to help anyone get outdoor whatever the weather. The one I'm featuring this week is from Party of 5 in Calgary on making wind sticks using recycled materials of sticks & florist ribbons.
This is such a simple activity that even the youngest of children will enjoy making & I could see us doing something like this up in Bear Woods.
  • Any kind of children's outdoor play-related posts are welcome!



We'd appreciate it if you included a link back to this post (either in your post or sidebar) to help us spread the word about the importance (and fun!) of outdoor play! In return, we'll gladly further share your post on FacebookTwitterPinterestPlease feel free to grab the Outdoor Play Party button from the sidebar and/or include a text link back.

Please note that by contributing you are giving permission for an image and link to your post to be republished if featured.(If you have been featured, please feel free to grab the 'featured' button from the sidebar.) Share your ideas for outdoor play activities with us every other week!





24 comments:

  1. It looks like a safe and stimulating environment. I am so happy to have that where we live...

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    1. It really is such a bonus having this space that used to be a patch of grass that had to mowed every 6 weeks. Thanks again for linking up.

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  2. Such lovely photos :) I love the name bear woods too... sounds magical! x

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    1. Thanks Charlotte, I was quite impressed that they came up with the name & it has stuck, they also like to pretend to be bears when up there!

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  3. You give the children such a lovely time and the the wood that you are creating is wonderful for the children. I look forward to seeing some photos next time from the first birthday party up there.

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    1. Thanks Fiona, it shows that even the smallest spaces can provide endless opportunities for young children. Thanks for your support xx

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  4. It's looking fantastic and kids love going back to see how much what they've planted has grown. We plant stuff every year for National Tree day and then it makes great weekend trips revisiting the area.

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    1. Lovely idea Tat & thanks for linking up too.

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  5. What a simple and amazing space. It never ceases to amaze me how easy it is to please children with nature. Can't wait to watch the space change and evolve.

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    1. So true Jessica, sometimes we overthink things whereas children can find contentment in the simplest of spaces.

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  6. I love how creative kids are outdoors. Indoors a pot is a pot, outdoors leaves are pots, sticks are spoons, or flutes, or flags, or... Anything they want them to be :-)

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    1. Exactly Steph, sometimes we need to just give them room to be creative.

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  7. Thanks for inviting me to your linky party. Great post!

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  8. I didn't say thanks to you ladies for featuring my little wind wand, lol. Thanks so much.

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    1. No need, thanks for your support & for linking up again.

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  9. It's lovely to see the changes taking place. Oh and great choice of posters :)

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    1. LOL, only the best posters get in our spaces!

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  10. It is brilliant to find such a great use for an otherwise overlooked area, and lovely to see the children so excited even though they are well used to playing outdoors! :)

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    1. True their excitement is infectious, we only have to point up to the space & say we are going up there for even the most reluctant rain gear wearer to rush to get theirs on!

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  11. Oh this made me smile :) A Bear wood :) Thank you for linking up with Let's have an adventure linky x

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  12. awww i love the name Bear Woods - kids are so creative even with what they just find lying around outside x

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  13. I love what you have done with an otherwise unused space. It is clear the kids love it and the name Bear Woods is just lovely :-)

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    1. Thanks, Leila - it is a pretty special space & I can't wait to see it develop over time.

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