Outdoor Play Provides Rich Environment For Learning

Rebecca White, Gioe, Cheri M., Merrill, Thomas A.


When choosing a child-care facility it is just as important to visit the outside spaces as it is to tour the classrooms. Outdoor play is a favorite activity for most young children. Playing outdoors provides the opportunity for young children to use and develop their large muscles while running, climbing, skipping, hopping, throwing, catching, digging and riding bikes or tricycles. 

Outdoor play doesn’t just encourage large motor development. It also plays an important role in children’s learning – particularly when it is thought of as an extension of the indoor space. Circle time, story time and art all can occur outdoors instead of in.  Additionally, the outdoors is an obvious landscape for experiences with many aspects of science."

In a child care setting, children of all ages should be taken outdoors at least twice a day – when the weather permits, of course. Additionally, the National Association for the Education of Young Children recommends that there be 80-100 square feet per child available for play in a child care setting.

Once outdoors children should be supervised constantly and have access to a wide variety of activities such as:

  • Playground equipment that is appropriate for the ages of children who will be using the space
  • Items for digging and pouring
  • Riding toys (pedaled or foot propelled)
  • Areas for quiet play
  • Outdoor pets
  • Gardening areas
  • Balance beams
  • Ramps
  • Sliding poles
  • Bars
  • Stairs
  • Swings
  • Trucks
  • Wheelbarrows
  • Plastic animals
  • Natural objects such as sticks, stones, shells and pebbles
  • Sandbox
  • Water table
  • Chalk
  • Bubbles

The LSU AgCenter’s "Be Child Care Aware!" educational program is designed to educate parents and child-care providers about quality child care. It is funded, in part, through a contract with the Louisiana Department of Social Services’ Office of Family Support.

10/4/2004 4:25:35 AM
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