Over the winter, our little toy shed was blown completely over two different times. The first time it happened, we sat it back up and left the inside a big mess. It was freezing outside at the time, so we decided to wait until spring to clean it out.
About two weeks ago, the wind came blustering in and blew that darn shed over again. This time, spring was in the air, so we rolled up our sleeves and went to work getting the shed ready for outdoor play.
As we purged our outdoor play shed, I got rid of anything that I have found to distract the children from having quality play and exploration. You see, 30 years of experience has taught me that the kinds of toys we have out for play will either lead towards or be a huge distraction from constructive outdoor play and exploration.
What Kind of Play Do You Want?
As we set up our toy shed, I started thinking about the type of play I want to see the children mostly invested in.
- I want to see the children mostly invested in exploration and discovery.
- I want our natural environment to take a priority role in their play.
- I want to promote imaginative and interactive play.
- And I want to see the children getting some healthy exercise.
Your play environment is most likely different than mine so you will need to decide for yourself what kind of play you want to promote and how you will go about promoting it.
Will your tools for play promote the kinds of play you hope to promote?
As we cleaned out the shed, I started thinking about whether the items we set in the shed were going to lead the children towards the kinds of play I want to see happening outside. Anything that I wanted the children to have access to EVERYDAY stayed in the shed. Everything else would go into another space until I decided to pull it out.
We had 14 hula-hoops in the shed, for example. Two of the hoops were all bent up. The remaining 12 were very large and whenever the children do take them out, they roll the hoops down a big hill at the back of our play yard and just leave them there. That is not exactly the kind of play I would like to see every day. So, I took the hula-hoops to my garage and will pull them out when I have a better plan for play in place.
By the time we finished cleaning out and setting the shed back up, this time with a sand bag at the bottom so it wouldn’t keep blowing over, I had exactly the kinds of tools for play set up inside that would promote the kinds of everyday play and exploration that I want to encourage and promote.
My small storage shed is now all set up to provide the children with tools for play that they can use every day. The children can pull the tools out and put them away all by themselves. And most importantly, these tools for play will lead them towards the kinds of play I want to see happening in my outdoor environment every single day.
In my next two posts, I am going to share more details about the kinds of tools for play we use as well as additional ways we promote quality outdoor play, so stay tuned!