We love to get outside at Thames British School Early Years Centre where we have a large outdoor area, also our top floor classroom has direct access to a large terrace.
We created an outdoor learning environment that encourages children to express themselves, explore their imagination, conduct investigations, enjoy plants and nature, play with sand, climb and slide, ride motors and bicycles.
We encourage open-ended and flexible play and we want children to be excited, adventurous, noisy, messy. To talk, listen, interact and to make friends. It’s a place to imagine, invent, construct – deconstruct; a place to be active, to run, climb, jump, slide, rock and swing. Special care was taken to provide protection from extreme weather conditions through shade and shelter.
Our outdoor space is complete with features that invite to play, enhance interaction, introduce a variety of sensorial experiences to induce and encourage curiosity, gross and fine motor activities.
Here is a brief description of our garden:
The entire surface -200 square meters are covered with a new, soft, high-quality artificial turf. Its density, softness, and resistance makes it ideal for all types of games, pleasant to the touch, cushioning falls.
Children’s exploration of sand allows them to make sense of the physical world: they see what happens when they put dry sand through the funnel; they discover that they have to pull down on the pulley’s rope to make a bucket go up. Digging tunnels through sand and building sandcastles are forms of early engineering. They become familiar with many mathematical concepts such a varying weights, volumes, quantities and also full & empty, heavy & light.
Our students also have an outdoor kitchenette where they can manipulate sand, water and other natural elements provided for them to play and experiment with.
The central element of our outdoor area is a climbing equipment in the form of a castle (designed originally for Disney Hong Kong). It has two slides of different heights, stairs, different areas for stimulation and movement in addition to several towers that serve as small houses and shelters which invite imagination and symbolic play. Going up and down the slides helps improve children’s balance, as well as coordination and reflexes. It also strengthens the muscles in the legs and is a great tool for the development of spatial awareness. Our castle simply is a powerful tool for children to understand their own body and its limits.
No less important is the vegetation and pots for the garden. We have a wide variety of pots with plants and small trees distributed around the different corners/walls of the patio. Currently, we have strawberry plants, succulents, creeper plants, flowering pots, calendula, mint, rosemary among other herbs. We also care for a lemon tree among other evergreen bushes. Our goal is for children to learn to live with plants and cooperate in their care.
Finally, we’d like to highlight the large number of toys and materials that are positioned in the different areas of the patio: bicycles, motorcycles, see-saws, natural elements (pineapples, sticks, shells, etc.), kitchen and sandbox tools, balls, stuffed and mini world animals, books, soft building bricks, etc.
Our garden designs although appearing complete, are forever evolving according to the necessities of our children and the change in seasons.