Importance of Outdoor Play on Development of Children

Abstract

This research study aims to examine the importance of outdoor play on the development of children. The rationale behind this is that outdoor play enhances the process of learning, physical development, motor development, sociability, innovativeness, creativity, cooperative ability and many other aspects of the child’s development. A medium-sized center that caters for 66 children in the toddler, nursery and kindergarten classes has been identified as a case study. The curriculum at the center that is the focal point for this research has allocated limited time to outdoor play. It is the intention of the study therefore, to enlighten the school administration of the importance of outdoor play. There is a need therefore to allocate enough time to outdoor play within the curriculum, so that the children may reap benefits to their development. The strategic plan of this study therefore is to allocate more time to outdoor play within the curriculum. This was achieved by a change of the existing policies, soliciting for enough capital by the center’s administration, purchasing the necessary extra equipments to facilitate outdoor play. The study was carried out for 2 weeks. Anecdotal records were used throughout the process. The finding of these studies shows children improved in their cognitive, social and interaction skills. In addition, they were also seen to exhibit more fun and happiness during the time that they were involved in the outdoor activities. This implies that given more time, one can observe a difference in children learning through the incorporation of more time for outdoor activities to the curricula.

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Introduction and background to the research problem

This research study wishes to explore the importance of outdoor play in improving the learning of children. The learning institution in focus is a center that is owned and headed by Ms. Lim, who is a branch director of the center. In this case, Ms. Lim acts as the overall decision maker at the center. She has, however, delegated some of her duties to Ms. June, who acts as a supervisor at the center. In her capacity as a supervisor, Ms. June is charged with the responsibility of overseeing the day-to-day activities within the school, with the help of a total workforce of five teachers. Of these, two are English, two Chinese, and one other assistant. On the other hand, the center has a total population of 66 students, and these have been divided into five categories. The toddlers’ class comprises of 12 children, while the playground class is made up of a similar number. On the other hand, the nursery class consists of 10 children, while the rest constitutes the 2 kindergarten classes, each with a total of 16 students.

Currently, outdoor play has been introduced to the Kindergarten children who previously had no program for outdoor play. This was introduced in March where outdoor play was allocated two days in a week. This, according to researcher is not enough for an appropriate development process of the children. In addition, some equipment has been installed in the playground. These include slides and sand pits only. This is inadequate and needs to be changed. More equipment should be added to enable the children to have a variety of exploration and play.

As mentioned above, there have been some significant steps forwards. Before March this year, there was no outdoor play for Kindergarten children. Fortunately, the program was started later that month where outdoor was allocated time within the timetable. This was on Tuesday and Thursday where the children were given half an hour for outdoor play.

This limited allocation can be attributed to the curriculum. With the center curriculum not understanding the importance of outdoor play, they allocate as little time as possible for outdoor play because they are made to believe that academic work must be completed before children engage into play. They therefore give first priority to academic work before allowing the little remaining time for outdoor play. With a clear understanding of the importance of outdoor play, more time will be allocated.

The rationale behind the changes was the understanding that outdoor play was equally important as other learning subjects. In fact, outdoor play enhances the process of learning, physical development, motor development, sociability, innovativeness, creativity, cooperative ability and many other aspects of the child’s development. This means that outdoor play should be given enough priority and hence be incorporated within the curriculum.

Burdette and Whitaker (2004) contend that play has great importance on the developmental process of preschool children. Burdette & Whitaker (2004, p. 46) identified that while the emphasis on outdoor play has waned, there is need for a refocus on this because play does not only encourage physical growth of the children but also it contributes positively on the development of the child’s, “social, emotional and cognitive aspects.” it is evident that outdoor play greatly improves the child’s attention, also referred to as cognitive strength, affiliation, also referred to as social abilities and affect which is also referred to as emotional orientation of the child. These are additions to what most parents identify as the importance of outdoor play which they believe to impact on the child’s fitness and fatness. These sentiments were further echoed by DeBord et al (2007, p. 2; Henniger, 1993) who also identified the importance of play on the interaction ability of a child. They further pointed out that play improves the learning ability of the child.

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While the school’s playground cannot be taken as appropriate, there are some steps that had been taken which are commendable and will remain unchanged. Among these will be the slides and sand pits. Although they are not compatible with all ages, they are as important for the children of less than age three. Therefore, they will remain important for the children who will fall within this bracket. For the children who go beyond this age, more equipment will be installed for them.

The form of researcher strategic plan was to incorporate outdoor play within the curriculum and later advocate for changes of polices. A side from the change of policies, the strategies further aim at raising enough capital to purchase the equipment.

With an opportunity to act, a little step taken forward by the branch director to allocate half an hour on Tuesday and Thursday for outdoor play clearly indicates that there is hope for more allocations if the understanding of how important outdoor play is to children’s learning and development was well understood.

The intention of this researcher is to change the school’s perception of outdoor play. With a changed perspective, outdoor play could be integrated into the curriculum. With such integration, more time will be allocated for outdoor play.

The first strategy that was taken was that of explaining the importance of outdoor play to the director of the school, the supervisor, other teachers and parents, with a view to convincing them on a need to integrate the curriculum with outdoor play. The second strategy was to raise money for the upgrading of the playground. To achieve this, it was deemed appropriate that parents be educated on the importance of outdoor play to learning and other forms of development.

The third strategy involved additional time for outdoor play on the timetable. To achieve this, assistance was sought from the supervisor, so that the time that is allocated for other curricula activities could be reduced, to compensate for outdoor play.

Even as the promotion of outdoor lay at this institution was a welcome respite, nevertheless there are a number of constraints that were encountered. To start with, the equipment that needed to be purchased was of high cost, and this would mean that the school would have to invest a lot, against an already strained budget. Another hurdle that was encountered came from the parents, a majority of whom harboured a perception that the policies of the schools should give priority to preparing the children academically first. For this reason, the researcher would be faced with the challenge of educational policies that do not adequately embraced increased outdoor activities for the children. The only possible option in this case, was the integration of outdoor play within the existing curricula of the institution. However, it was necessary to first obtain the approval of Ms. Lim, the branch director, in addition to that of Ms. June, the supervisor. It is however important to note that Ms. Lim, the branch director, lacks experience in this field, it will therefore call for the support of Ms June who is the supervisor.

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The support of the supervisor Ms June to drive the point into the director’s understanding so that she can understand how integration of outdoor play to the center’s curriculum is important so that she can allocate more time for outdoor play and hence facilitate children’s learning.

Having implemented some little changes on outdoor play shows that there is an opportunity to implement full changes. However, attaining this would mean overcoming hurdles like school policies, budget, and permission from parents. The researcher will have to achieve success by ensuring that the strategies involve promoting knowledge on the importance of outdoor play which would assist in integrate curriculum with outdoor play.

Even as the upgrading exercise of the playground could take time, nevertheless, the integrations of outdoor play with the school curricula would be immediately implemented, following the approval of the school management.

This research will therefore act as the knowledge point through which the school’s stakeholders will refer to understand the importance of outdoor play. It will point out the strategies and likely hurdles in the effort to integrate outdoor play within the curriculum. Its main intention is to advocate for more time to be allocated for outdoor play through the integration of this into the school curriculum. This will be achieved by trying to answer the question, How can outdoor play improve children’s learning? The research will therefore answer the question by pointing out that outdoor play improves children’s learning.

Literature review

Introduction

This section of the research study wishes to explore the definition of play and more specifically, outdoor play. In addition, the different types of outdoor play shall also be explored, along with the benefits that usually accompany the adoption of outdoor play by learning center, to the children. Also, the role that is played by a teacher in as far as outdoor play is concerned shall also be examined, in addition to the importance of space for outdoor play.

What is play?

Play cannot easily be defined. However, Wardle (1987) purports that play, “Involves a free choice activity that is non literal self motivated and enjoyable and process oriented.” Separately, Stephen Nachmanovitch views play as “the root and foundation of creativity in the arts and sciences also as in daily life” (Nachmanovitch 1990, p. 6). On the other hand, Sally Jenkinson, who has authored a book titled, ‘The Genius of Play’, contend that childhood ‘play’ is an integral as well as an intimate part of the development process of a child.

Jenkinson notes, “In giving primacy to adult knowledge, to our ‘grown-up’ ways of seeing the world, have we forgotten how to value other kinds of wisdom? Do we still care about the small secret corners of children’s wisdom?” (Jenkinson, 2001, p. 8). All the elements of play including rules, time, environment, material, the activities and the roles are all variables that depend on the participants who are the playing children. Basing on this definition, playing will therefore not include activities like children being told to label the paints they have, instead, playing will include providing the colours and allowing the children to paint whatever they like.

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What kind of play

Outdoor learning should not be an unorganized affair with children playing anywhere with anything. It has to be well organized with the teacher ensuring that what happens outside is an extension of the class work. The outdoor environment is supposed to be organized in a way that it involves all the physical, emotional, social and cognitive aspects of learning. The environments should allow the children to have a clear understanding of themselves, their peers and the environment as a whole. This can be achieved through a diversity of play materials which trigger curiosity, exploration, movements and hence promote interactions. Diversity also stimulates the desire for discoveries and self discoveries. In addition, the diversity of play materials also stimulates creativity and innovativeness (Rivkin, 1995).

Researchers of a study that was published in the journal of public health for America suggests that when children are exposed to natural settings, this acts to lessen the development of DHD (deficit hyperactivity disorder) amongst children (Krisberg 2007). In the same way, environmental psychologists Stephen Kaplan and Rachel Stephen have established that when children are in contact with nature, this promotes recovery as a result of mental fatigue, restores attention, as well as their mental focus (Frumkin & Louv 2007).

Type of Outdoor play

There are several types of play. Among them is motor or physical play. This type of play allows for motor and fine muscle development. In addition, it assists in the strengthening of physical muscles. Accordingly, this type of play allows for an integration of the muscles, the brain and the nerves. This is very essential for kids. The second type of play includes social play that allows the kids to learn how to interact with others in different social settings. As a result, the kid learns social laws that include giving and taking, how to reciprocate, how to share and cooperate with others.

Constructive play allows for kids to use their minds to manipulate and change their environment for example by using blocks to build towns and cities. It builds the experimental and creativity nature of the kids. Fantasy play gives the children ability to create non existent

Situations (Krisberg 2007). They are given opportunity to play different roles. They are given opportunity to experiment their language emotions. This assists them in imagination stretching. Finally, there are games with rules which teach the kids to learn of social contracts. Without adhering to the set contracts and rules, the game cannot be played. The games include most of the sports. Therefore this allows the kids to learn that life is about rules that must be followed (Wardle, 1987).

Benefits of Outdoor play

Several scholars have felt the importance of highlighting the contributions of outdoor play on the developmental process of preschool children. Burdette & Whitaker (2004, p. 46) identified that while the emphasis on outdoor play has waned, there is need for a refocus on this because play does not only encourage physical growth of the children but also it contributes positively on the development of the child’s, “social, emotional and cognitive aspects.” it is evident that outdoor play greatly improves the child’s attention, also referred to as cognitive strength, affiliation, also referred to as social abilities and affect which is also referred to as emotional orientation of the child. These are additions to what most parents identify as the importance of outdoor play which they believe to impact on the child’s fitness and fatness. These sentiments were further echoed by DeBord et al (2007, p. 2) who also identified the importance of play on the interaction ability of a child. They further pointed out that play improves the learning ability of the child.

In addition, physical play has a great contribution in the balance of energy within the body of infants and adolescents. This is what contributes to positive health behavior. As Kohl and Hobbs (1998) point out, positive behavior is an outcome of an interaction between physiologic, environmental, social and psychological factors. This means that the diverse aspects of these factors interact in different ways to mould the positive behavior and activity. One of the generally accepted contributions of outdoor play was improvement of the motor play of the child. All the studies mentioned above purported that a child’s motor play improves with encouragement of outdoor plays (Buell et al, 1968).

On the same study on the improvement of the motor play of the child, Buell et al (1968) further points out that while the role of the teacher-supplied reinforcement in the effort to come up with a certain response is great, the outcome can be marred with behavior changes where an unwanted behavior is replaced by another unwanted behavior. For example, he points out instances where a child prone to crying modifies the behavior and changes to thumb sucking. This is characteristic of teacher-supplied reinforcement. However the problem is not experienced in instances where the child is exposed to both the indoor and outdoor behavior modification agents. This shows that a child’s behavior can be well moulded by considering both the social and motor deficiencies. Using of outdoor play develops both the skills.

The interacting skills of children are attained through their contacts with several factors. They range from interactions with their fellow children, with adults, and also with the objects that are found within the environment. If well set, the environment offers a very important form of teaching where children are given opportunity to question and explore and as a result come up with theories on the way things work. This opportunity also imparts on the children the relevant skills in corporation, speech and negotiation. This shows that through outdoor plays, children learn to interact which eventually gives them these relevant life survival skills (Moore, 1993).

There are also indications that when children remain indoors for a prolonged period of time, there are certain negative health consequences that could ensue. According to Richard Louv, when chairs an organization called ‘Child and Nature Network’, and author of the book, “Last child in the woods”, such an overall effects on the health of a child that remains outdoor for prolonged periods of time could be physical, psychological, or even spiritual. Additionally, the time that is spent on schoolyard settings that are nature-based usually encourages the emotional and social development of the children (Rivkin 1997).

A researcher study that was carried out on amongst nursery school children at a learning center in Berkeley, California found out that when the learning play ground that was previously composed of asphalt was turned into a meadow composed of streams, flowers, woods and ponds, this resulted in more positive social relationships and enhanced creativity, a testament to the fact that natural areas, coupled with outdoor play, acts to enhanced the social-emotional development of children.

Voiland (2008) opines, “We see increased self-confidence, better body image, and cognitive benefits. Kids who spend more time outdoors tend to do better on testing; they do better on science; they tend to play more cooperatively,” Voiland (2008). Similar sentiments have also been echoed by Kellert (2005). According to this author, “Play in nature, particularly during the critical period of middle childhood, appears to be an especially important time for developing the capacities for creativity, problem-solving and emotional and intellectual development.” (Kellert 2005).

Finally, it is worth noting that outdoor play allows children to engage in games that involve the whole body and thus gives the children room for planning and implementation of their plans without any limitation of noise and movement. This means that outdoor play gives room for messy and noisy games that also involve rough and nonviolent superhero games that would not have been allowed in indoor learning. As a result, children are able to engage in games that are more physical and which engage not only the muscles but also enhance motor development. Furthermore, outdoor plays help kids to develop their physical skills through the facilitation or constraining their interaction and strategies with others (Talbot & Frost, 1989).

Teacher role

Children should be exposed to two types of outdoor play. This involves structured outdoor play and unstructured active play. Structured activities include those simple games that children engage in which involve running, jumping and having a lot of fun. Under this type, the children play under the directions of the teacher. It is the role of the teacher to define such activities as rope jumping, hopscotch, tossing and running after a ball etc. during rainy days, children could be subjected to singing and dancing. Unstructured active play is the type of play where children are given chance to play on their own without the without the directions from the adult. In such a situation, the role of the adult is to ensure that he sets the playground and also ensures supervision so that the game does not become rough and lose fun. The children should be provided with balls, beanbags, scoops, hula hoops etc (Milnes, 2009).

Space

The environment in which outdoor play takes play acts as a key ingredient in as far as the shaping of a child’s learning process is concerned. For example, in a case whereby the environment that surrounds a child is characterised by forms of entertainment as the watching of television, and computer games, there is the possibility that such a child might end adapting a learning development that is socially, and cognitively self-centerd (Wardle, n, d. ). Wardle has criticised such kinds of play-environment, since they undermine sound learning and development amongst children. Further, Wardle has also criticised the school environment, for failing to provide sufficient play programs for the children.

ACEI (2002) has noted that an ideal play environment should be both inviting and enticing for a child. For example, there is a need to ensure that outdoor play gets more space. In addition, it is important to ensure that there is a proper planning of the play environment, in addition to properly equipping it with the necessary play tools, in order to encourage group play, while at the same time also enhancing incidental learning experiences. A play environment that has been planned well is also a source of stimulation to a child, in effect functioning as an ingredient for shaping a child’s feeling of power, at a time when they are playing, and also in life, in general. The reason behind this is that children gets plenty of room to interact with their fellow children, in addition to the environment, thereby enabling them to perform a number of activities, and this may also entail adult role-plays.

Conclusion

The environment for outdoor play is supposed to be organized in a way that it involves all the physical, emotional, social and cognitive aspects of learning. The environments should allow the children to have a clear understanding of themselves, their peers and the environment as a whole. This can be achieved through a diversity of play materials which trigger curiosity, exploration, movements and hence promote interactions. Example of outdoor play includes motor, fantasy, physical and constructive. All of these collectively help to enhance the physical, emotional and cognitive development of children. A number of scholars have attributed enormous benefits to outdoor play for the preschool children, such as encouraging physical growth, as well as contributing positively to the development of the child’s, “social, emotional and cognitive aspects” (Burdette & Whitaker, 2004, p. 46)

Outdoor play allows children to engage in games that involve the whole body and thus gives the children room for planning and implementation of their plans without any limitation of noise and movement. Furthermore, outdoor plays help kids to develop their physical skills through the facilitation or constraining their interaction and strategies with others. The role of a teacher in outdoor play is to supervise and guide the children in the various activities involved, as well as to add variety of the outdoor play games. The environment in which outdoor play takes play acts as a key ingredient in as far as the shaping of a child’s learning process is concerned. As such, the space should be inviting and exciting.

Research Method

The research topic is Outdoor play can improve children’s learning.

Defining the enquiry

This topic is concerned with the importance of outdoor play on the development of kids. In this case, a medium-sized center catering for 66 children in the toddler, nursery and kindergarten classes has been identified as a case study. The strategic plan of this study therefore is to allocate more time to outdoor play within the curriculum, a change of the existing policies, to create more time within the existing curricula for outdoor play.

The research question

The research question for this study is how can outdoor play improve children’s learning?

Sample

The sample for this research study consists of a branch director, who also doubles as the overall decision maker for the center. The director is married with two children, is 35 years of age. Previously, she was an assistant to a government accountant. Currently, she has enrolled for a Diploma course in Leadership. She is important for this particular research study since her authority and approval for the implementation of this project shall be necessary for the implementation of this project.

The supervisor for the center is in-charge of the daily activities of the school, as well as overseeing over the other five teachers at the center. She has a Degree in Early childhood education, and has been in this field for five years. She therefore brings a wealth of experience to the center. At 34 years of age, she is married with two children. The center also has five other teachers; two of whom are Chinese. They all hold Diplomas in early childhood education. Children of kindergarten are at the age of 5 years old. There are 5 girls and 5 boys. Most of the children parents are professionals, some working as a teacher, lecturer, police inspector, and self-employed etc. Children of this group are actively vocal but not so physical.

Data collection

This study involved in implementing several action plans. (See Appendix 1 – Timeline) The first step was meeting with the branch director for the center under study, to pave the way forward for the impending implementation process and the potential changes to be made to the playground, in readiness for facilitation outdoor play (Appendix 1)

The second step was meeting up with the supervisor to discuss the link of curriculum to outdoor play in extending the children learning. Seeking her consent, support and resources to facilitate the integration of outdoor play to the3 curricula of the center (Appendix 1.1)

The third step was introducing different play to the kindergartner. Allowing the children to brainstorm the topic and create their play equipment to be add into the extended outdoor play (Appendix 1.3)

The fourth step was by allowing children to explore their own creation and extended into outdoor play. Children were more hands on, discussion on how they want to play with the equipment using their learnt knowledge (Appendix 1.4). During this session, the teacher helped the children to play the traffic sings. The intention was to assess if they could recall the rules from the previous session on the same game, and also to help them play on their win. The idea was to let the children share their play things, and enjoy themselves in the process. One of the children even acted as the traffic policeman, so that he could ‘discipline’, those who did not follow the rules. At the end of the session, the teacher discovered that the children had increased their level of interaction, and were even willing to play again, an indication that they were having fun.

Monitoring tools used

Anecdotal records, for the purposes of collecting data were used.

Data Analysis

Once collected, data was analysed via an open-coded system, for purposes of providing findings for the research study. Common theme were categorised such as: Integrating of outdoor play enhances children’s learning, what is play, types of outdoor play, benefits of outdoor play, teacher role, and space.

Results & Discussion

Integrating of outdoor play enhances children’s learning

In implementing the discussed action step that is seeking approval shows the center’s authority was open to discussion on the issue of integrating outdoor play into the existing curricula, this is an indication that the management is in support of this plan, and that they are committed to ensuring that the learning ability of their children is enhanced.

Steps for integrating outdoor play:

  1. Seeking permission from the branch director. The researcher (St) highlighted to the center’s director, Ms Lim of the importance of using outdoor play as a way of enhancing the learning process of children.
  2. Meeting with Ms June and shows her the connection from the curriculum to outdoor play. This meeting was aimed at discussing with the supervisor at the center, Ms. June, on ways of extending learning at the center through increased outdoor play activities.
  3. Brainstorming session and the introduction of extended outdoor play at the kindergarten. This was the chance for the children to brainstorm during the class sessions what they would want to be added onto the already existing curricula for outdoor play, with the assistance of the researcher. In addition, the children had the chance to carryout out such activities as the creation of traffic sign, and traffic lights, by using recycled materials. At this stage, the children were showing great levels of creativity and involvement towards learning. The researcher was also involved in the brainstorming session, along with the children, with the
  4. Observing children in outdoor play extend their learning. A variety of outdoor plays were introduced to the children. This way, the children were in a position to further explore their play learning through interactions, sharing, and exchanging information. In this case, the researcher introduced the different outdoor plays as a way of engaging and enhancing the learning process of he children.

Evidence exists in literature to support claims that outdoor play enhances children’s learning. For example, Voiland (2008) observes, “We see increased self-confidence, better body image, and cognitive benefits. Kids who spend more time outdoors tend to do better on testing; they do better on science; they tend to play more cooperatively,” Voiland (2008). Separately, Kellert (2005) opines that “Play in nature, particularly during the critical period of middle childhood, appears to be an especially important time for developing the capacities for creativity, problem-solving and emotional and intellectual development.” (Kellert, 2005).

This particular study was characterised by a small sample. For this reason, there is a limitation with regard to the generalisation of the findings that this research study could realise to the wider community of children and teachers. Also, the director at the center, along with the rest of the etching staff, were less informed regarding the crucial role that is played by outdoor play, in enhancing the learning experiences of children. The onus is therefore on the researchers and scholars alike to ensure that they communicate the importance of outdoor play to children, to the administrators of learning centers. This way, such educations centers shall embrace these outdoor activities in a ore positive manner.

Conclusion

This research study aimed at examining the importance of outdoor play on the development of children. The rationale behind this is that outdoor play enhances the process of learning, physical development, motor development, sociability, innovativeness, creativity, cooperative ability and many other aspects of the child’s development. A medium-sized center that caters for 66 children in the toddler, nursery and kindergarten classes has been identified as a case study.

The curriculum at the center that is the focal point for this research has allocated limited time to outdoor play. It was the intention of the study therefore, to enlighten the school administration of the importance of outdoor play. The study was carried out for 2 weeks. Anecdotal records were used throughout the process. The finding of these studies shows children improve in their cognitive, sharing and socialisation skills. The implication therefore is that given more time, one can observed a difference in children learning.

The steps for this research study involved first seeking permission from the branch director, followed by the arranging of a meeting between this researcher and the supervisor at the center, Ms. June. This was important, since Ms. June, with her background in early childhood education, was in a position to make the connection between outdoor play, and its importance for the learning process of children. Therefore, she was a decisive factor in influencing the center’s authorities to embrace increased outdoor activities.

The other step involved the researcher observing children in outdoor play extend their learning, with the result that the adding of variety in terms of outdoor games that the children played, helped to increase their levels of interaction, sharing of information and play materials. Furthermore, the children were also found to be more inquisitive, a testament that outdoor play enhances the learning outcomes of children.

Recommendations

The findings suggest that more research could be done in explaining the effectiveness of adding variety to outdoor activities, as a way of enhancing the experiences and learning outcomes of children. Further, it would also be important to explore those forms of outdoor play that have the most potential in terms of expanding the learning outcomes of children so that in future, more emphasis could be laid on these.

Given that the needs for children with regard to outdoor play is a challenges that is both challenging and complex, it is important to ensure that when implementing it, a number of factors are taken into consideration, one of which is the different needs that the young children requires, for this reason, it becomes important to ensure that a variety of play activities are incorporated, so as to fully engage the physical, mental and cognitive development of the children.

In addition, there is the need to ensure that the safety of the children during play time is fully catered for. Therefore, the teachers or care providers for he children needs to be well trained regarding safety issues of children play, so that they can avert these whenever possible. Besides, the incorporation of the outdoor play to the curricula of a learning center and ensuring that it takes place on a daily basis helps to fully engage the various physical, mental and cognitive functions of the children. Furthermore, it also ensures that the children integrate and share more of their play things and time with their peers, and gets to interact at a deeper level with the care provider of teacher, thereby enhancing the learning process.

General Plan Duration Monitoring Tools Comments/Interpretation
  1. Seeking permission

from branch director

  1. Discussion with Ms June- extended learning through outdoor play.
  2. Brainstorm and introduce the extended outdoor play to Kindergartener.
  3. Observe children in the outdoor play extended their learning.
1stAction Step
Seeking permission from branch director
  1. Seeing Ms Lim in her office
Date: 7.7.09
1.40pm-2pm
Anecdotal Record
Appendix 1
The researcher (St) highlighted Ms Lim of using the play areas as the extended learning through outdoor play enhances children’s learning.

(Refer to Anecdotal Record in Appendix 1)

Evaluation: The 1staction step has been carried out successfully.
2ndAction Step
Discussion with Ms June- extended learning through outdoor play.
  1. Meet Ms June and shows her the connection from the curriculum to outdoor play
Date; 10.7.09
1.35-2pm
Anecdotal Record
Appendix 1.1
With the researcher further explanation of how can the curriculums extended to outdoor play shows how importance of play in children’s learning.

(Refer to Anecdotal Record in Appendix 1.1)

Evaluation: The 2ndaction step has been carried out successfully.
3rdAction Step
Brainstorm and introduce the extended outdoor play to Kindergartener.
  1. In class, children will brainstorm what they want to add on for the outdoor play related to the curriculum.
  2. Children to create traffic lights, traffic sign, etc using the recycle materials.
Date: 14.7.09
10.30-11.30am
Anecdotal Record
Appendix 1.2
The researcher brainstorm together with the children. Children came with their own ideas of creating the play equipments using the recycle materials.
Children show great interests and creativeness to their creation and involvements towards this learning.

(Refer to Anecdotal Record in Appendix 1.3)

Evaluation: The 3rdaction step has been carried out successfully.
4thAction Step
Observe children in outdoor play extended their learning.
  1. Bring children to a different outdoor play.
  2. Children will explore their play learning further through interaction, sharing and exchanging information.
Date: 16.7.09
10.30-11.15am
Anecdotal Record
Appendix 1.3
The researcher introduced the different outdoor play engaged and enhanced the children’s learning.
(Refer to Anecdotal Record in Appendix 1.3)
Evaluation: The 4thaction step has been carried out successfully.

Appendix 1

1st Action step

Anecdotal Record

Setting: Office

Date: 7.7.09

Observer: St

Time: 1.40pm-2pm

Context: After lunch, St went to the office to look for Ms Lim (branch director). Ms Lim and Ms June (supervisor) were in the office. Ms June was photocopying some worksheets.

St sat on the chair near Ms Lim and said “Ms Lim, do you still remember me telling you about the assignment that I am working on?” Ms Lim nodded her head. “Well, I need to seek for your permission and approval to do the study.” Said St “Mm… I remember you mentioned something about outdoor play and some arrangement of space…is that what you want to discuss?” replied Ms Lim “Well, it’s related to my previous assignment that I did. It’s about the importance of outdoor play and when I observed and noticed that our center actually have lots of space but not exactly utilizing it, I find this to be a waste.” Said St with a smile “Which outdoor play area are you referring?” asked Ms Lim “Just behind our school playground, there’s a space which I think it could be used for extended learning like Road Safety which I’m teaching the children.” Said St “Mm… Ms June can you also listen to what St is saying.” Ms Lim turned to Ms June and said. “What do you mean by extending the learning?” asked Ms June “Well, what I meant was that since I’m having a topic about Road Safety, why don’t we extend it to outdoor play where children could relate what they have learnt in theory and put in action. Some children could be drivers, cyclist, passengers and pedestrian.” Said St “Mm…Sound interesting isn’t it!” said Ms Lim “Yes, now I see the connection.” Replied Ms June

“Okay then St, you shall go ahead with the discussion with Ms June and she will assist your needs” Said Ms Lim “Alright!” exclaimed St “Can I see you on 10.7.09 to discuss of my plan?” asked St “Sure” answered Ms June

Interpretation

Throughout the conversation, Ms Lim and Ms June shown their interest and supported the idea. The agreement in extending the outdoor play shows the belief on the importance of play in children’s learning.

Appendix 1.1

2nd Action step

Anecdotal Record

Setting: Dining area

Date: 10.7.09

Observer: St

Time: 1.35pm-2pm

Context: After lunch, St met her supervisor (Ms June) at the dining area. St placed the K1 curriculum file for Ms June to have a look.

St turned to the paper showed “Road Safety” to Ms June. “This term my class are learning Road Safety, so I thought that I could use the space for the children to extend their learning by creating a play scene which they could somehow connected it to the reality.” Said St

“Mm… I see! So, you intend to use the playground area or elsewhere?” asked Ms June

“You know there’s a space near to the playground which is left bare and wild grass are growing. I’m thinking of using that area to extend the children’s learning” replied St

“Okay, what idea do you have and how are you going to do?” asked Ms June

“Well, initial was leaded the children there to ride bicycle, but while the children were cycling and talking to them, an idea came into my mind. Why not make the space into a cycling track for children where they could cycle with an idea rather than aimlessly here and there? Said ST

“What do you mean by the children cycle with an idea?” asked Ms June

“I meant the connection to our topic.” Replied St

“Mm… I see! If it happens that way I am sure the children will be thrilled and if they were to be involved in creating the scene and play, it will even be better, won’t it?” Said Ms June

“Yap, that’s my intention too!” exclaimed St

“Okay then, I think you could go ahead with your plan and see what you need.” Said Ms June

“At the moment, I think that the equipment will be enough, except for some additional some props. I will be brainstorming with the children and then make it by ourselves.” Said St

“That’s a good!” said Ms June

“Thank you, Ms June.” Said St

Interpretation

Upon a further explanation of how the extended outdoor play was going to be conducted, this shows the connection of the importance of play in children’s learning.

Appendix 1.2

3rd Action step

Anecdotal Record

Setting: Classroom

Date: 14.7.09

Class: K1

Age: 5 years old

Observer: St

Time: 10.30 –11.10am

Context: After a Chinese lesson, children were gathered in rows to ease themselves and to return back to class for discussion. There were 5 children present at the time of observation. St placed the recycle materials brought in by the children in the previous session and put it on their group table.

Children were told to go to their tables. YS, MK, WG, EW, and GB started to gather the toilet rolls and stick them together using the masking tape but it kept falling. “You must stick here and here.” Said MK to YS “You hold for me I stick here.” Said MK “You see, hold like this.” Said MK “Put the box up here.” Said MK to YS. The children pasted the box on top of the toilet roll as the pole and the box as the traffic light, but seem it did not stick well as it falls a few times. “See, I tell you to put more tape here.” Said WG “Is it here?” asked YS “Yes” replied WG. “Teacher St can you help me to paste. You see keep dropping down.” Said WG “Mm…but I see all of you did a good job, why don’t try again maybe paste it another way.” Said Teacher St. Then Teacher St walked to EW and GB who are constructing the pedestrian traffic light. “Put more masking tape on the toilet roll and tissue box. Said EW to GB “See like this” said EW. EW tried to get the toilet roll and tissue box from GB. Then MK said “See I make already.” MK already put all the toilet rolls together and made a pole. “Paste together.” Said MK to EW. EW passed the balance toilet rolls and box to MK and MK tried to stick it together with masking tape. “EW, hold here and here.” Said MK while GB tried to help too. “Not enough tape.” Said MK “I go there and take.” Said GB GB torn some tape and passed it to MK and EW. After pasting, they tried to make the traffic light stand but it tumble and they laugh. Quickly, they pick it up again and straighten the toilet rolls and paste more tape. Teacher St walked back to see what WG and YS and they had managed half way. “Teacher St, you see we make it like thin, same as the book I read.” Said WG “Is it nice” asked YS “Well quite impressive” said Teacher St. Then Teacher St told them to stop as its time for next lesson.

Interpretation

Children were able to carry on with what they have been learning and representing what they had learned in other ways. Children were applying with their own skills their level of confidence was seen to also improve, as they went on with their play activities. Not only were the children observed to solve problems progressively, they were also showing an increased level of cooperation, were appreciative of the ideas of the teacher, as well as those of their peers. Their level of perseverance was also assessed by the teacher, because when they failed to stick together recycle materials as their teacher had demonstrated to them, they had to repeat until they had mastered it. The fact that they were cooperative and never complained indicates their willingness to learn, and that they were enjoying the activity

Appendix 1.3

4th Action step

Anecdotal Record

Setting: Playground

Date: 16.7.09

Class: K1

Age: 5 years old

Observer: St

Time: 10.30-11.15am

Context: After the drinking water session, 5 children were told to put on their shoes for outdoor play.

“Children are you ready for a different outdoor today?” asked St Children looked surprised and excited? MK asked “are we going to take the traffic lights out to play?’ YS asked “Yeah, I remember we made some traffic lights” “Yeah, yeah, I remember teacher says she wants to let us bring out to see and play.” Said WG “Okay, so are you ready to help?” asked St “Yes!” shouted the children “Come follow me!” said St leaded the children to the playground.

“Wow! Ha … ha …” exclaimed the children excitedly “Surprised!” said St “Teacher St, it look like the road from my house to school.” Said MK St nodded her head. The rest of the children were exploring, touching the triangle cones, the traffic lights and traffic signs that they had make. “Yes, I have placed the equipments for you to see and play, but if you want to shift the equipment to what you have discussed, you may rearrange again, okay.” Said St

“Okay, can we play now, Teacher St?” asked WG “I want to cycle on the road with the car” said YS “Me, too! Said MK “Alright, but before that you still remember the play rules?” asked St “yes, we have to share and take turn.’ Said the children, “Okay, you may choose which roles you want to play and enjoy.” Said St

Children ran to pick their choice but MK called them and instructed WG to play as the traffic police and asked him to take some traffic signs while YS and herself will ride the car and bicycle on the road. EW and GB were acting as walker crossing the road.

Shortly, WG asked MK “Can you change with me?” “Okay.” Said MK EW saw it and ran to YS and asked her “Can we change?” “Okay, but later you must change back to me.” Said YS

A while later, St called upon the children and asked them “Children, do you want to change the setting, like maybe you want to place the triangle cone to the other side so the road don’t look straight or…” “Make a roundabout!” exclaimed MK “Yes, how about that!” said St “Ya!” shouted the children.

MK took two triangle cones with her hands, while GB grabs one with her hands. While the rest of them help to arrange it into a circle. “Can we move the traffic light here, Teacher St” asked EW “Sure, why not” said St EW and WG ran to the traffic light and removed the traffic light and place it near to the roundabout. “Teacher St, can we play again.” Asked WG “Okay, you have another few minutes to play.” “Let’s pretend we drive our car around the roundabout. My mummy always drives there near my house.” Said MK Children were laughing while moving around the roundabout while St acted as the traffic police to direct the traffic lights.

A while later, St called upon the children and asked them “Children did you enjoyed yourself?” “Yes, I like being the cyclist and walker. Its fun!” said MK and YS “How about the rest of you?” asked St “Fun, nice!” shouted the children “Can we play again?” asked the children “Sure” said St

The Children helped to put away the props, and then went back to their class for next lesson.

Interpretation

Getting the children to be involved shows how the extended outdoor play could be extended to connect to the curriculum, and how importance of play in children’s learning. This was evident when children show so much of enthusiasm and excitement during play. They were able to make connection from what they learned in class to outdoor play. Children were able to express their happiness and excitement during play thus integrating outdoor play indeed extended children learning. What this indicates is that outdoor play seeks to engage the emotional, cognitive, as well as the physical wellbeing of the children, seeing that the children could connect what they had learned in class, what they were doing during outdoor play, as well as what usually occur at home, or in the environment close to them. The fact that the children were both excited and happy, is a further indication that outdoor play combines fun and excitement to reinforce the learning experience, hence making it an enjoyable activity.

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