Saturday, March 8, 2014

What can you do with Bamboo?

Walking past the rather extensive (and cheap) bamboo collection at Bunnings recently, I started to think:  What can we do with bamboo?

Here are some ideas:

1.  Bamboo Guttering for water play:

2.  Making Music:

3.  Teepees and Cubby Houses

Source:  1. C & K Twin Towns 2. Puzzles Family Day Care  3.   Puzzles Family Day Care  

Source:  Let the Children Play

4.  A Bridge:

Source:  Playscapes

5.  Hanging bamboo:

6.  Room Dividers:

7.   Bamboo for building:

Source:  Mama Moontime

8.  Bamboo in the Sandpit:

9.  Writing with Bamboo pens (click on the link to Flights of Whimsy for "How to's")


So there you have it.  Another cheap, natural, open ended resource for early childhood settings. 

How about you?  Have you used bamboo?

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Greening the Man Made Outdoors Part 2

Welcome to Part 2 of "Greening the Man-Made Outdoors".  If you missed Part 1, you can get up to speed by clicking here.

Let's get right down to it:

1.  Bring in the Potted Plants

Potted plants are always a winner when you have little natural space, and they have the added advantage of being portable.  You can arrange them to create spaces and define areas:

 Credit:  Platinum Preschool

Mix things up a bit and add plantings to different kinds of containers:

(For more boat planter ideas, click here)

2.  Bring in the Natural Loose Materials:

Credit:  Only About Children Neutral Bay

Credit:  Only About Children Cammeray 2 Campus

Credit:  ONly About Children Cremorne Campus

3.  Grow herbs in containers:

 Credit:  Peninsular Sands Preschool via Centre Support

4.  Bring in the rocks and stones:

Credit:  Platinum Preschool

 (Top) Only About Children Neutral Bay Campus (Bottom) Only About Children Rose Bay Campus

Natural materials, such as these large smooth river stones, make ideal loose parts for children to move around and use in their play:

Credit:  Only About Children Cremorne Campus

 Credit:  Only About Children Neutral Bay Campus

Credit:  Only About Children Seaforth

 5. Bring in the stumps:

 Top and bottom left:  Only About children Mona Vale  Bottom Right:  Only About Children Cremorne

Credit:  Only about Children Cammeray 2 and Cammeray 3

6.  Grow a Fairy Garden (or three):

 Stay tuned for part 3 - I have plenty more ideas up my sleeve.

Over to you.  What are you doing to green your outdoor space?

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Greening the Man-Made Outdoors, Part 1

Getting your Green On

It is easy for those of us who work in early childhood settings with natural play spaces to advocate for children's right to play in natural surroundings.  

For many of us, the reality is more likely to be a play space dominated by soft fall and/or fake grass, surrounded by 4 walls or ugly fencing and barely a tree in sight.

This doesn't mean that the educators in these centres aren't aware of the many benefits of nature to everyone who uses the space.  

What it does mean is that they need to work a little bit harder, think a bit more creatively and engage the team, children and families in a vision of creating a greener outdoor space that offers children the opportunity to develop connections with the natural world and experience the outdoors as a place of wonder and possibility - usually on a very limited budget.

A New Series

Over the next few weeks I will share some simple, cost effective ideas to green your man-made outdoors.  Share them with your teams, share them with the children, share them with your families and use them to create a vision for your own early childhood setting.

Think big, start small, never stop and involve the children every step of the way!

Part 1:  Consider the Walls (and the Fences)

I know of plenty of centres that don't even have a patch of dirt to plant a garden.  If this is you, don't let that stop you adding some plantings to your outdoor space.  Put the walls and fences surrounding your playground to use by creating vertical gardens to plant herbs, vegetables or just to add a touch of green or a splash of natural colour.

Here are some cheap, simple options:

1.  Pallet Wall Garden

The team at Only About Children Seaforth added a pallet garden on the fence in a small, unused section of the nursery playground to create a secret garden:

The children helped with the building and the planting, and named it 'The Magic Garden'.

Only About Children Barton Campus attached a series of pallet wall gardens to their wall:

Pallet Side Note:  

It is not recommended that you grow anything in a pallet that is intended to be eaten.  For safe use of pallets, see here.

2.  Hang up some Gumboots

I attached gumboots and milk containers to some lattice I found in a council clean up using hooks that you can purchase cheaply from the hardware shop:

Mercy Child Care Centre, Thornlie attached their gumboots straight to the fence:

Karana Early Education Centre have teamed a shoe garden with a milk bottle garden made from pallets:

3.  Shelves or boxes on a fence:

4.  A wall garden using old soft drink bottles

Credit:  Only About Children Neutral Bay Campus

5.  Hang up some Pots or Containers:

6.  Climbing Plants

Attach some wire, lattice or even an old gate or bedhead to a fence or wall and you have a frame to train climbing plants:

Like some more gardening inspiration?  You can scroll through my previous gardening posts by starting here.

Over to you.  I would love you to share your own ideas, either by linking in the comments below or on the LTCP Facebook Page.  
Let's all inspire each other!

Next in the series:  Hanging gardens and Pot Plants