Thursday, January 21, 2010

what does an indoor / outdoor preschool program look like?

Well, I can't speak for everybody else's, but this is how things work at our joint. We are blessed with a purpose built preschool that was designed to facilitate the integration of the indoor and outdoor areas.

There are 2 "pods" or playrooms linked by a covered verandah, all of which open onto a big grassy outdoor playspace. The pod on the left is our morning playroom, the pod on the right is our afternoon playroom.

The preschool is bordered on 3 sides by bushland, which we use as an extension of our outdoor area.

The children begin to arrive at 9 am.

Free flow play indoors and outdoors from 9am - 12ish

The playrooms open onto the covered verandah which is the hub for all of our art and craft; sensory; playdough ; clay and cooking experiences.

We often extend or link indoor / outdoor experiences with verandah experiences so the kids can flow between the areas - a picnic on the verandah can move outside, or to the home corner inside. They can gather natural props from the outdoors, props from the box construction / craft table or go inside to get dress ups, bags etc.

This is our "make it" or "create it" table which is out all the time, and often first port of call for the kids. Tape, collage materials, glue, scissors, pencils, crayons, textas, string, boxes, containers, lids....

We try to not 'over set up' the outdoor area, but provide plenty of loose materials for kids to make their own play spaces and play experiences. Consequently, our sandpit and other playspaces often end up looking like this:

We might take a small group for a walk to play in the primary playground, or to get some books from the library.

Or go outside to collect some mulch for the garden.

At about 11.45 we have a tidy up of the morning room, followed by a circle time with stories and songs and games. The kids are free to choose whether they want to stay for circle time, or head back outside to play. Staff also pack away verandah activities and put new ones out at this time.

Morning tea / lunch Kids are free to eat and drink whenever they are hungry and thirsty. We have a meal area set up on the verandah, and it becomes a bit of a social hub - somewhat like a cafe! We start to check who has eaten and who hasn't at about 1230, and encourage the non-eaters to come and share a meal. We usually lure them with the promise of a story over lunch!

1230-300pm Free choice play between the afternoon room, verandah and outdoor area. We usually have quieter experiences and cozy spaces on the verandah and playroom so the kids can chill if they need to.

Often we will share whatever food we have cooked in the morning for an afternoon picnic, either outside or inside depending on the weather. Or some of us might get together to cut up some fruit for a communal fruit salad.

Some of us might go for a bit of a walk to paddle in the creek, or read some books in the bush, or take the cars to zoom over some rocks.

2.30 - 300 We pack away with the help of the kids. We will do some games or stories inside or the kids help us pack away outside.

3.00pm Home. Teachers collapse in heap :)


  1. Wow - what a wonderful example of bringing preschool both indoors and outdoors. I love it!

  2. Oooo....I'm drooling....your school is fantastic! What an amazing way to experience all things.

  3. What a fun place to learn and explore! I found your blog through Teacher Tom and will certainly be back to see what you're doing next.

  4. Where is this preschool located? I would to observe/play. :-)

  5. What an amazing facility! I had no idea. We're just working out of some spare space in a church. You are so lucky to have such a place, connected to the bush. Thanks for sharing this along with how you use the space. It looks and sounds amazing!

  6. looks like a beautiful program! Seems so relaxed and child centered. I enjoyed the photo of the children lounging and relaxing during group time.

  7. What a Dream! What a great place to learn and play! Thank you for sharing.

  8. hi there, your place looks fantastic, i am an early years worker with 3-5 yr olds, am looking for pre school to share ideas/ experiences