Tuesday, February 9, 2010

I've Got The Outdoor Play Area Blues

I love my preschool setting. I've always felt extremely blessed to be here. I have so much freedom to do what I want. Except for one thing. Outdoor Play. Here is my setting: I work in a community center that is run by an HOA. I have one room in the community center to call my own. I can do what I want within those four walls. When we go out to the playground for recess I am greeted by beautiful new play equipment, grassy areas, sidewalks and a splash pad (gated). I know, I know, I should be grateful for all the beauty. I'm jealous (I know I shouldn't be) of schools that have gardens, wood working stations, outdoor art areas, big tires to climb in/out of, and these wonderful little fairy homes that I've seen on numerous blogs lately. I can't have any of that, at least not permanently. Residents of the community are open to this playground/park area at all times, so I'm limited.

I do my best with two rolling moon sand tables, a bin full of balls/parachutes/hula hoops/construction trucks, sidewalk chalk, paintbrushes/water buckets, and bubbles that I wheel in and out everyday. I once attempted a garden in a large pot, but visitors to the playground mixed up the soil and destroyed our plants. I even tried a storage shed, but some local hoodlums opened it up from the hinges and stole some of our toys.

So, with this, I am asking for suggestions, if you have any. I add new things here and there and the kids are always happy to play outside. But, it just seems like I could do so much more.

Thank you for listening to my pity party. I'll buck up now!


  1. Ms. Jessi, I can relate! I can only do so much since our playground is utilized by other classes. I have a very small patch that I have gotten permission to plant a few flowers in the spring. I'm greedy and I want MORE! Some of the blogs I follow are doing such wonderful things outdoors!

  2. Can you use heavy-duty twine or string and stretch it from one end of the gate/fence to the other? If you can, you could get clothes pins and clip up large pieces of paper to create a make-shift art area outside. You would have to probably lug the actual paints or whatever in and out to avoid them getting stolen it sounds like, but the string could probably stay as long as it wasn't placed directly in front of the part of the gate that opens.

    Just an idea from a random blog-browsing prekindergarten teacher. Good luck! - S

  3. Hey Mrs. Jessi! I just gave your blog an award! :)

  4. Hello Ms Jessi

    I so understand your situation and would like to give you sympathy by the bucketful...to mix with a little mud, sand and sparkly things!

    I'm wondering what your children do outside. This is way more important than nice equipment or beautiful areas. Also what are the child-adult interactions like in your pre-school? Is there a positive, happy, purposeful ethos? Relationships are everything.

    However I'm going to point you to a book that may help called "Creating a Space to Grow" by Gail Ryder Richardson. This is a great book in that it is based upon a project in Kent, England where 15 difficult pre-school outdoor spaces were developed. One playgroup only had a car park! Another had a narrow alley. It looks at developing your outdoor space - whatever you have - in consultation with children and parents.

    All the best.
    Juliet (outdoor learning consultant & trainer)

  5. Thank you, Juliet. I'll look up that book! :)


I'd love to hear what your thoughts are...leave a comment! :)