To get started with your outdoor classroom design, begin with a space for your outdoor games.

By setting aside a large, unobstructed area for your large group, gross motor, outdoor games and circle time activities first, you are able to then designate and define the other areas.

Just like you have created spaces indoors for different types of activities or “learning centers”, you will want to designate outdoor spaces for the same things.

The space for your outdoor games is preferably a flat, grassy or cushioned area suitable for running. Since this will be the single largest area, it is best to select it first, and then fit in around it the other, smaller, activity areas. Keep in mind that this will be a relatively noisy area, so plan for other active, noisy play areas to be located near here and try to group noisy areas together and away from quieter areas.

Provide such materials as traffic cones, balls, bases, hula hoops and dancing scarves in an easily accessible manner for whatever impromptu play the children wish to create. Also include a separate container for your circle time activities. In this way, everything that you need for your time in this space is already on hand and there is no need to keep running back and forth getting materials from inside.

In addition to the space for group games, you will also want to create some physical challenges that are appropriate for the children. This can be in a separate part of the yard or on the perimeter of this area. Consider a “path” of rocks and/or logs of varying heights and lengths for the children to climb, balance on, and hop over. Be sure to allow for appropriate cushioning, and if you use wood mulch, it can still be an attractive focal point in the garden layout.

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