Monday, June 21, 2021

Outdoor Magic

Early childhood educators have long known the benefits of outdoor play. To name but a few, outdoor play improves physical and mental health, provides meaningful and magical opportunities to explore and create with others, and presents chances for appropriate and necessary risk-taking. This year, which will always be known as the COVID year, with its many restrictions and surprising bright spots, we've seen for ourselves day in and day out just how much our children have benefitted from spending so much time outside. We've seen the theory play out in practice. If anyone had any lingering doubts that outdoor play was different from indoor play and just as crucial for children's healthy development, this year put those doubts to rest.

Because we were told to be outside as often as possible, we went outside as often as possible. We ate snack and lunch outside. We did art projects outside. We played with legos and magnatiles and blocks outside. We went through tubs of sidewalk chalk and gallons of bubbles.
 We planted and watered and weeded. One class planted bulbs during Sukkot and watched the daffodils bloom during Pesach. Another planted and enjoyed lettuce and cilantro. 
We played with sticks and dirt and rocks and built bridges and forts and habitats for cicadas. We discovered so many spaces around the synagogue building that we had to give them special names. We needed a shared language so we could talk to each other about where we were going. In addition to the sukkah courtyard and amphitheater, classes played in the secret garden, by the climbing tree, in the field, and in the forest.
We also created new spaces. We hope you'll enjoy the Preschool Havdalah Herb Garden near the back parking lot and that you stumble upon the painted tree stumps in the secret garden behind the front parking lot. We worked with parent volunteers to enhance these spaces to make them even more beautiful and intentional. We have another project in mind, and we invite you to help us build it. We're planning on creating a Seven Species Garden in the grassy area to the left of the glass parking lot doors. We hope to build a new raised garden bed in the shape of a Star of David. We want to plant a fig tree and see if we can grow pomegranates. We imagine steppingstones and benches for wandering and resting. Like all the other spaces described so far, this will be another space that everyone in our community will be able to enjoy.

We'll be looking for gardeners and carpenters and anyone with a passion for outdoor learning. Stay tuned for more details and thank you in advance. Have a wonderful summer and see you in September!

Outdoor Magic

Early childhood educators have long known the   benefits of outdoor play . To name but a few, outdoor play improves physical and mental heal...