We are from Tugulawa, an early education centre based in Bulimba, Brisbane. We were already on the 'benefits of nature for children' train before Outdoor Classroom Day QLD came along, but utilised this great initiative to take us even further!
Our children live on small blocks or apartments with little or no yards, so love playing in our beautiful bespoke play space with trees, rocks, gardens and water all tucked away on a long and narrow inner city block. We recognise the difference between a playground and the open space of nature though, so we used Outdoor Classroom Day QLD as a springboard to take us to the next level.
Co-Directors Karen Broomfield (left) and Lauren Alexander (right).
Stepping Into Nature
With the amazing Nature Play QLD resources as inspiration, we created our very own Scavenger Hunt for 41 of our busy 2-5 year olds. Excitement built as we hired a 57 seater bus to take us to the Colmslie Beach Reserve. The children were armed with their very own Scavenger Hunt booklet, pencil and brown paper bag to hold all of those treasures they found.
It was hard to top the bus ride but nature certainly delivered. The children moved off in groups of two, three or four to either work on things in their booklet or play, learn and explore the way that they are built to. We set up two large mats, one as the dining mat which held large containers of whole fruit, sandwiches, frozen drinks and water which the children could visit whenever they felt hungry or thirsty. The other mat was an activity mat with resources like twine, sticky tape, a hole punch and scissors and children were welcome to use these resources as they liked.
Connecting With Nature
Trees were hugged, thanked, climbed and kissed, sticks became magic wands or pens or swords, bugs were followed and followed us back, hills were rolled down and rocks became pets. The standout of the day was the mangrove area on the banks of Brisbane River. The children pottered around the sand; followed animal tracks; climbed, hung from and bounced on the mangroves and fished with poles made from sticks with bait made from leaves.
Let's Do It Again... But Bigger!
Flushed with the success of the day and the sheer delight evident in both the children and our teaching team, we are already cooking up strategies for the future. We recognise that investing in building the capability of our team is paramount – further and more in-depth professional development covering topics such as tool use, knot tying and cubby building. We need to investigate, source and purchase resources and equipment like magnifying glasses, tools and reference books to deepen our experience. Our families are already on the nature train with us, and we are grateful to have their support. This support has developed gradually through the sharing of information and through deeply embedding our philosophy in our every word and action.
More Than Just A Day
For us, Outdoor Classroom Day QLD is so much more than just one day. Our journey won’t end here and for the other 64,000+ children and their teachers who participated in Queensland this year, please don’t let it end there for you either.
See you in the great outdoors; dirty, scratched and delighted.
Outdoor Classroom Day QLD will run all throughout spring, so there's still plenty of time to pledge to take your children outdoors to learn.