MBIS Preschoolers celebrated ‘Outdoor Classroom day’ on the12th of October, 2017 with the rest of the world. We were immensely proud to be a part of this global campaign which was observed in India for the first time this year.
This was a powerful sensory experience of learning and creating lasting memories for learners, both children and adults alike. The experiences not only helped the children connect with nature and build a greater awareness of the environment but provided opportunities to think independently and creatively. The many different activities planned for the day challenged ideas and views, indulged our senses and helped us discover new ideas. The open spaces that we shared with others made us think about being mindful of how we interact with resources, people and other living beings and how to make responsible choices.
One of the stations was making ‘an invisibility potion’, inspired by a book by Lauren Child, ‘Slightly Invisible’. The children were challenged to make their own version of an invisibility potion with materials from nature: water, flowers, leaves, spices, ground cinnamon, turmeric, and of course the magic ingredient, ‘glitter’ in various colours. The potion station was visited by many and it was magical to observe their ideas evolve as they began experimenting with different ingredients. The potions that were created were as unique as the individuals themselves; from the shape and size of the bottles they chose, to the colours and smells that were added, as well as the stories behind their creations. By the end of the day, we had a collection of potions not only for making someone invisible but for many other purposes. ‘Alien potion’ was one among many that captured a lot of attention. Imagine, the adventures that one can have as an alien, by merely taking a sip of the potion!
Cooking offers children a variety of learning experiences and lifetime skills. The Barbecue Station was organised for the children to have a hands on experience and the joys of outdoor cooking while promoting healthy food choices. It was popular with the children and our special visitors. The children were engaged in helping to start the fire and keep the fire going. Each item in the barbecue stand had a price to be paid in sticks, leaves and stones. The children read the pictorial menu and went looking for the number of leaves, stones and sticks that they would need to pay for their item. They had the opportunity to grill whatever they had paid for- corn, pineapple or marshmallows. It was an endeavor that children were enthusiastic to undertake.
We also witnessed a large group of nature enthusiasts who went around hunting for bugs in the garden. They looked very professional carrying clipboards and checklists, binoculars, magnifying glasses and a camera as they searched for bugs in the garden. Some decided to work in pairs, others in small groups and a few individually, but each one of them worked responsibly. They found many butterflies, spiders, ants, birds and even earthworms. It was an experience that has helped develop literacy and numeracy skills in our children besides making them aware of many creatures that we share our spaces with.
The Mud Cafe was another station explored by many creating recipes with natural materials. Kneading mud with our hands, pouring water to get the required consistency of a pie or soup, adding flower petals to decorate and flavour dishes and choosing and using tools for measuring, pouring and moulding are excellent for developing mathematical concepts, vocabulary and motor skills. The children enjoyed making a muddy mess but worked equally enthusiastically as they washed and cleaned pots, pans and other tools after play.
The whole experience was reinforced the next day during a special assembly. Everyone received a certificate of participation from Ms. Helen, of which the children were very proud. We plan to continue and extend these experiences, empower our learners and hopefully inspire others too to explore and enjoy the essence of outdoor play and learning.