Friday, May 11, 2012

EnTIREly Too Much Fun!

The weather has been absolutely amazing, I dare to say that today has been nothing short of perfect!
We spent ALL morning outside, and we are going back out just as soon as we can.

Our outdoor classroom has been in need of some touch ups after the winter, 
and we are slowly making the necessary changes and repairs as time permits.
 I have some great updates for you coming soon!

This week, the children have been super active in creating forts and making traps.  The beauty of having so many loose parts and allowing children time to freely explore materials,  
is the creativity and imagination that they express..... 

I overheard one of the children saying "This is my house, so you can't live in it. But, if you like, you could sleep here tonight."  When the other child insisted on having a house... another pile of loose parts was constructed, and our yard magically transformed into a neighborhood. 

Some of the houses even have elaborate entrances, like this one, 
where you have a slippery elevator that requires the use of a rope pull
to assist you in entering the building if you have not yet mastered the climb on your own. 

While we have been out "playing" we have been experimenting with engineering, 
learning how to tie knots, exerting forces to defeat gravity, and traveling distant lands, 
and learning how to be good neighbors

Obviously, we have been having entirely too much fun. (Pun definitely intended) 
When children have the time to explore and ability to use materials in their own ways, 
when they are "just playing" children are LEARNING!!!!

Don't forget, If you have not yet checked out the fabulous book by Jeff A Johnson and Denita Dinger- Let Them Play, An Early Learning (Un) Curriculum, take some time to do so! They give you all of the tools you need to help explain to parents and other folks why it is so important to let children play and to give them some more control over their time and tasks!  You can win a copy- if you have not yet entered, hop on over to my original post about this book!

Lately, I've had a lot of questions from other folks about our tires, so I thought that I would share some of what I have learned as we have provided tires in our learning environment for the children.

  • Painted tires: We washed them really well. Then primed them, I used whatever we had laying around. Our tires are painted with spray paint that was intended for plastic, However I would imagine that any exterior paint would work. They managed to make it through our winter weather with little wear.  

  • If you plan to bury tires as a climbing structure. DON'T cut them in half. Even if you have giant tractor tires, when you cut them, they lose some of their stability and structural integrity. We learned this the hard way, and now our what was going to be caterpillar climber is now lovely row of flower (weed) beds along our fence. They do make nice planters.

  • Giant tires (tractor tires) make fantastic drums and gathering places. We have one that we put in our outdoor music area. The drum head has been a learning experience. We started with various fabrics. However, the children like to walk on it. So, fabric does not tend to last. Treated plywood also has a unique sound, but even if it is "outdoor" plywood, our weather is not conducive to keeping it in decent shape. So, our current attempt for the drum head is a round piece of thick plexi-glass. So far, so good, I'll keep you updated if/when we have to make additional changes.  

  • Tires as loose parts have been an INCREDIBLE addition to our outdoor space. The children use them for so many different things. Today's discovery was that tires make great chalkboards. They tend to move them around, push them up ramps, roll them down hills... stack them to climb and reach, turn them into teeter totters with a piece of wood, balance scrap wood pieces in order to create obstacle courses... Us them under pieces of wood to make (bouncy) furniture..... their creativity and imagination with varied uses is amazing!  
Tires make the perfect step stool when things are just a little too high to reach on your own.
(Our Sand and Water Wall)
  • As loose parts- here are a couple of pointers- DRILL a couple of good sized holes in each one for drainage. This will keep you from having any standing water.  If you live in a warm/hot climate... paint the tires a different color- black gets hot! Store your tires upright, and you will have less water get into them and they will be easier to inspect for critters :).  I've never found an unwanted critter in them, but it is much easier to inspect them when they are upright. 

Find yourself some tires and see what happens!

Do you have a great way to use tires? I'd love to hear about it!


Janis said...

I'm inspired. I haven't used tires in the past because of the thought of standing water and the attraction of mosquitoes and being hot to touch. You have answered both of those concerns. I am working on adding "loose parts" and making our outdoor area more appealing to the children this summer. I will be putting a request in our bulletin for donations of tires. Thanks!

Unknown said...

New follower from Picklebums. I love this post. My son loves tires, why gues cause he is a boy, but he would so love to have a yard with tires to play on. One day. (Momma's Fun World)

My friend died

 I learned a hell of a lot from Dan Hodgins.  He was mentor, a friend, and a "bone shaker" for many of us in the field of Early Ch...