Monday, February 10, 2014

Fight the Flu...Play Outside!

What an absolutely beautiful day it was outside today.  The new snowfall made everything clean and white again, the sky was blue and the recent ice storm gave us some great chunks of ice on our playground.  Of course it was cold!  It is winter in the east.  Of course we played outside. Children NEED to play outside everyday!

I have become quite discouraged by all of the reports I am hearing from friends and family about their young children not being able to go outside at all when there is snow on the ground or if it is cold. Somehow the idea of recess or a physical movement break is getting minimized to the point of non existence.  Indoor recess is happening more and more where children are asked to pick a "quiet" game and sit at their desks to play it.  How does this activity give them a break from sitting at their desks being quiet?  To rejuvenate these young minds and bodies and make them able to focus once again on their tasks inside, we need to give them fresh air to breathe, room to run, time to make noise and the ability to interact with our natural  world.

Thank goodness I work at a place that values the outdoors and the need for children to interact with their natural environment as much as possible.  We go outside each day, twice, in the fours class.  We play in the cold, the snow, the light rain and the sun.  We currently have a rule that we stay inside if it is below 22 degrees.  I am not sure  how this number was chosen and this winter having so many days below 22 degrees have us questioning that rule.

This does require parent cooperation and sometimes takes a few weeks to get everyone prepared everyday.  We require raincoats and boots for muddy, rainy days.  For days like today, we ask that the children wear their snowpants, snowboots, hats, gloves or mittens and winter coats.  Is it a lot of work to get everyone dressed each day?  Sure it is, but becoming independent with dressing is one of our goals and getting outside is worth the effort.

It also requires our staff to be willing to dress for the weather.  We cannot actively supervise the children without walking in the snow and mud.  My assistant and I are often dressed in our full gear...snowpants and all...allowing us to actively participate with the children.

Once parents see that you will indeed be going outside everyday, they are more willing to send in the correct clothing.  If needed we send reminders home or make phone calls.

I chose the title of this blog post because some people still believe the old wives tale that going outside in the cold will give you a cold.  Actually its the opposite.  More people get sick in the winter because they are spending too much time indoors in close contact with each other and each other's germs.  The dry air inside helps the germs spread easily.  Get outside where there is more space between people and a whole lot more fresh germ free air.

So this post isn't just me on my soapbox, here is a cool-literally- activity to do outside and in.
Today we found the frozen snow blocks from the ice storm last week under the fresh powdery snow that had just fallen.  We collected the slabs of ice and built sculptures and bridges with them.

 We were having so much fun with them that we decided to bring them inside for our indoor playtime.
We collected them in the base of our sensory table.

Once inside we added jars of liquid water color paint and paintbrushes.  The children painted the slabs of icy snow as if they were artists' canvases.

When we returned outside we brought them with us and added them to the landscape of our outdoor classroom.

So put on your snowgear...and get outside to play! 

1 comment:

  1. What a neat post and snow activity! You are so right about the need for outside recess. You know the old Scandinavian saying "There's no bad weather, only bad clothing" - that's so true, and I wish more schools lived by it.