Outdoor play


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Principle and statement of intent

At Bumbles Day Care we believe outdoor play is an integral part of the curriculum. Outdoor play is essential for all aspects of a child’s development. It can provide children with experiences which enable them to develop intellectually, emotionally, socially and physically. In doing so it provides a rich context for the development of their language and encourages positive attitudes towards a healthy lifestyle.

This policy has been formed following the guidelines and principles in the:

  • Department of Health & Social Services NI – Childminding & Day Care for children under age 12 Minimum Standards published July 2012, which states that:
  • Children have appropriate opportunities to be active indoors and out, as well as to relax and rest.
  • Outdoor play space is safe, secure, well-maintained and exclusively for the use of the children when the setting is in operation.

The outdoor area

At Bumbles 1 we have a large outdoor play area which has been sectioned into 2 garden play areas allowing opportunity for more than one group to be outdoors simultaneously. The gardens are well laid out and designed to give a safe, secure outdoor environment, with shady areas, safety surfaced and a range of equipment to challenge and stimulate.

Bumbles 2 have access to Rosetta Primary School’s play ground and playing fields as well as age appropriate equipment for their outdoor play.

Planning outdoor play

As per our Learning through Fun & Play Policy, staff will use the time outdoors, not just for fun but as a learning opportunity. In planning outdoor activities we will have clear goals for children’s learning, but at the same time be responsive to children’s enthusiasm and their interests and ensure flexibility to meet individual children’s needs as they arise during the session. We will make use of all available resources to enhance and extend their play. Staff will be using Effective Early Learning observations to evaluate and assess each child’s progress and achievements and these will be recorded in their learning diaries.

Whilst outdoors, staff will be actively involved with children in their games and activities where appropriate and not solely in a supervisory role. Staff will be:-

  • Talking with children in a variety of ways (conversing, discussing, questioning, and commentating).
  • Helping children to find solutions to problems, supporting and encouraging.
  • Extending their activities by making extra resources available and providing new ideas.
  • Initiating games and activities and joining in games and activities when invited by children.
  • Observing, assessing and recording.
  • Being aware of safety issues
  • Being aware of every child’s equal right of access to a full outdoor curriculum which is broad, balanced, relevant and differentiated regardless of race, culture, religion, gender or disability.
  • Evaluating observations in order to plan appropriate resources and experiences.

At Bumbles Day Care we have available a wide range of age appropriate outdoor play equipment and resources for both fun and education. We also use visiting instructors for various activities including the Playball team who provide an age specific programme that gives children an opportunity to enjoy “All Sport” in a creative, fun and structured environment that Motivates, Inspires and Challenges. We also arrange local walks, trips to the park and the duck pond as well as organised outings to farms, zoo and the beach.

Learning Opportunities in the Outdoors

There are many opportunities for the key development areas to be enhanced outdoors.

Personal, Social and Emotional Development:

  • dispositions and attitudes
  • space to play, following their own interests, for extended periods of time e.g. making an obstacle course for others to use
  • freedom to use a wide variety of large equipment e.g. climbing frame/slide
  • self-confidence and self-esteem
  • listen to the birds singing
  • opportunity to develop an awareness of nature
  • enables children to build a variety of friendships
  • behaviour and self-control
  • share tricycles/scooters with others
  • self-care – wash hands independently after gardening
  • put on Wellingtons to play in sand pit or work in the garden

Communication Language and Literacy:

  • Children talking together in co-operative play situations e.g. on the climbing frames, when making play dens.
  • Adult/child conversations where adult may extend or introduce new vocabulary
  • Children negotiating for turns or objects
  • Children using non-verbal communication, particularly body gestures, facial expressions and glancing at things in order to communicate and respond to events and other people
  • Listening to natural and manmade sounds e.g. thunder, chime bars.
  • Listening to instructions, conversations and explanations.
  • Listening to rhymes, poems, songs and chants
  • Following road systems e.g. pathway and road signs

Physical Development:

  • Movement with confidence, imagination and in safety
  • Riding scooters and tricycles, prams and pushchairs
  • Travel around, under, over and through balancing and climbing equipment
  • Running around garden area, swinging from climbing frame
  • Noticing breathlessness, increased heat and perspiration after exercise
  • Noticing tiredness in body, legs and arms, feet and fingers after exercise

Cognitive Development (Problem Solving, Reasoning and Numeracy, Creative Development & Knowledge & Understanding of the World):

  • volume and capacity in sandpit and water tray
  • tidy up time – solving problems, are they all there?
  • making collections of natural objects
  • making patterns with natural objects
  • looking at colours of leaves and flowers
  • noticing the different weather conditions and impact of the weather on them
  • noticing the plants in the garden/taking care of them
  • A sense of time – notice changes in the garden through the seasons
  • A sense of place – talk about different parts of the nursery outdoor e.g. garden area, steps, front and back entrances, car park.

At Bumbles 2 as per our Learning through Fun & Play Policy, the main focus will be on relaxation and play but mindful of our care ethos of helping children to grow in confidence, independence and self-esteem.

Outdoor Safety

Each morning, the manager or deputy manager will risk assess the outdoor area, checking both for cleanliness and security.

Equipment is regularly assessed to ensure it is safe and fit for purpose.

Before children go outside a member of staff must check that the main gate is closed / padlocked.

When children are outside in the playground areas, in line with our risk assessment procedures, the playground area entrance/exit will always be supervised by a member of staff.

A head count of children must be taken before going out and again when coming in.

All groups should use the outdoor areas separately and care and attention should be given to ensure that groups do not crisscross in coming in from or going out to the play areas.

In winter when the cold weather indicates, salt (stored in the yard) should be scattered on the steps and car park area.

Staff on duty outdoors must always be aware of the safety of the children in their care, be vigilant at all times and never leave the play area for any reason unless another member of staff has taken over responsibility.

All equipment should be stored away sensibly and carefully, to allow for safe and easy removal next day.

Children’s clothing should be monitored carefully e.g. unfastened shoelaces and buckles, scarves and ties on anoraks which are too long can easily cause accidents, particularly on wheeled toys and climbing equipment.

If it is necessary for an adult to put toys away whilst children are still in the play areas, there must always be at least one other member of staff supervising remaining children in the area.

If a child is injured he/she should be:

  • Treated with the portable first aid kit outdoors.
  • Taken indoors for treatment as quickly as possible if necessary.
  • Both child and staff member should remain within sight of another member of staff while treatment takes place.
  • Details of the accident must be written up as soon as possible on an accident/incident form.
  • The child’s parent must be informed of the accident and treatment.
  • Fresh air and exercise are important factors in promoting good physical health. Outdoor play will be encouraged in all weathers, with the appropriate care taken to protect children.
  • Hot Weather
    • Children will be encouraged to play outdoors, however a risk assessment will be taken to determine if in the interest of children’s safety outdoor play may be restricted at the hottest parts of the day;
    • Shade will be provided in the outdoor area;
    • Children will be encouraged to drink water regularly;
    • Children will wear sun hats and sun cream will be applied before children play out in hot weather;
    • Staff will apply sun cream, minimum SPF30 to children no less than 30 minutes prior to going outside (a parent/carer consent form will need to be completed & signed prior to sun cream been applied).
  • Wet Weather
    • Suitable waterproof clothing will be provided to enable children to be able to experience splashing in puddles, playing in the rain or snow.
  • Cold Weather
    • Children will be dressed appropriately with coats, hats and gloves before playing out;
  • Where possible Bumbles Day Care will try to build up a spare bank of additional clothing that can be used in emergencies to enable the children to continue to access the outdoors.