Teaching the Early Years

Oakland Schools EC Newsletter January 2016

Quote of Inspiration

"Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself. — John Dewey

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Fresh Air in the Winter Months

Children and adults benefit from outdoor time even in the winter months. By going outside and breathing fresh air, children have the opportunity to avoid being stuck indoors where there may be over-heating, little ventilation and germs that have been trapped inside.


Here are some suggested ways to take advantage of the fresh air in winter months:


  1. Take short nature walks around your school.
  2. Use binoculars (real or made of paper tubes) to look for animals.
  3. Look for animals tracks in the mud, dirt or snow.
  4. Do a plant investigation, collect some dried foliage to investigate.
  5. Use small spray-bottles filled with water and food coloring or a bit of tempera paint to spray-paint the snow.
  6. Freeze varied sized and shaped colored ice inside. Use bowls, ice trays, buckets, etc. Bring the frozen pieces outside for building and creating.
  7. Bring large foam puzzle pieces outside for children to use in the snow.
  8. Build hills of snow for playing.


Always be aware of your children's temperature limits. What may be warm or cold for you may be different for them.


Source: http://www.education.com/reference/article/Ref_Safe_Play_Outdoors/


Additional Outdoor Ideas:

http://www.communityplaythings.com/resources/articles/2012/ten-outdoor-winter-activities

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Bringing the Outdoors Indoors

It may be that during this time of year you are having difficulty getting outside with your children. Why not bring a bit of the outside in?


Here are ways you can incorporate outdoor items into the areas of your indoor environment:


Book Area

  • Add books with real photos of outdoor scenes. Be sure to include images that represent the climate you're currently in.
  • Invite children to draw images of what they've seen outside and ask them to hang the images in the Book Area.


Toy Area

  • Add a basket of dried tree bark or smoothed stones to your Toy Area shelves.
  • Invite children to collect interesting items from their outside area at home to be added to a collection in the Toy Area.


Art Area

  • Bind a few twigs together and invite children to paint with the twig-brushes at the easel.
  • Add a basket of larger rocks to your painting utensil area on your Art area shelf.


House Area

  • Add colder weather clothing items to your House Area. Consider that the babies may want warmer items too, small pieces of fabric and masking tape may work well for this.
  • Invite families to bring in any unmated socks and invite children to use the socks as mittens (or socks) in their play.
  • Plant seeds in shallow cups/pans with the children. Watch them grow into plants as they live in the House Area.


Block Area

  • Add a few photos or images of outdoor scenes to the shelves of your Block Area.
  • Add some twigs and foam to your Block Area to enhance and encourage some outdoor scene building.

Resources of Interest

It's always a good idea to check Amazon too.
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Relevant Research for You

Language Learning in the Outdoor Environment


A March 2015 study collected focus group interviews from 165 preschool staff in Sweden to better understand the teacher role with language learning in outdoor environments. They found that outdoor environments can offer very powerful tools for creating language environments, but that this DEPENDS on how AWARE preschool staff are of language learning in outdoor environments. Some preschool staff said that viewing the outdoor environment as a stimulating language-learning environment was a new way of thinking. However, the results of this study also show that some preschool staff members do challenge children’s language learning in the outdoor environment. According to Szczepanski (2007), children’s motivation and understanding INCREASE when the learning environment is moved outdoors. Outdoor activities and events provide opportunities to: EXPLORE, INVESTIGATE and REFLECT, which are crucial for children’s ability to acquire a rich and varied language. It is essential for preschool staff to discuss their approaches to children’s language learning in outdoor activities.


How will YOU intentionally challenge children’s language learning in outdoor contexts during the winter months?

Source: Norling & Sandberg (2015). Language Learning in Outdoor Environments: Perspectives of Preschool Staff.

Classroom Resource GIVEAWAY!!

Would you like to win a FREE resource for your classroom? Submit a photo of your teaching in action for a chance to win in our monthly drawing!! Please make sure you have received photo clearance from all of your staff and families before submission, as your photo may be in our next newsletter. Good luck!


Submit photo entries to mailto:Gerri.Smalley@oakland.k12.mi.us