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4 lessons we’ve learned from educators

We have the privilege to meet amazing teachers and early childhood educators at our Professional Learning Workshops. Over time, they've taught us a thing or two about outdoor play and learning.

Two boys play outside sitting in cardboard boxes. Image: Joanne Burbidge
Image: Joanne Burbidge

Published on May 30, 2018

Teachers and early childhood educators are working hard to get outside on a daily basis with their students.

Working with an amazing team of outdoor educators here at Evergreen, we have incredible opportunities to learn from the hundreds of educators attending our workshops every year, and so we would love to share a few lessons we’ve learned from them.

Start small, take it slow

It can be so exciting to bring in new approaches to outdoor learning and play . It’s an amazing world out there! However, one of the things we hear time and time again from experienced educators is to start small.

You can take it slow, especially in the fall, and then build on successes, so that the children feel confident in any new approach that you are bringing in to your practice. For example, if you are starting to experiment with natural Loose Parts (wood cookies, pine cones, burlap, stones, sticks, etc) start with small items - it will allow the children to get used to this approach and to build their self-regulation skills. You can check out some fantastic approaches to Loose Parts with our video series.

Partner up with a friend or colleague

Jenny Soehner is a kindergarten teacher who works very closely with Gloria Bauman, an early childhood educator. They are fantastic examples of two educators working together in a supportive manner, making sure their classroom is a wonderful place for both children and adults.You can see them in our winter play and learning video series.

There are so many benefits to working closely with a friendly colleague to ensure the success of bringing the outdoors into your daily experience. It gives you a built-in support, someone to explore new ideas and approaches with, and is a great way to build positive relationships with your colleagues, parents and the wider educational community.

Going outside improves learning indoors

Taking children outside helps them concentrate more when they return indoors. They are more focused, calmer and have a much higher level of engagement in the classroom. Check out this article about a new study looking at how students ‘pay better attention in class after an outdoor lesson.” 

Kids play with loose parts outside.
Photo: Joanne Burbidge

Have fun

Your days with children can be creative, exhausting and inspiring – all at the same time! There can be worries about logistics, routines and permissions, and hopefully these tips can help a bit in navigating this world of outdoor learning and play. What we hear time and time again is the rewards that come with being outside with children. It is a joyful and exciting experience, and that joy is catching!


Want to share your own lessons with fellow educators? Sign up for one of our 2018-2019 workshops dates at Evergreen Brick Works. 

We also travel! If you're interested in hosting a workshop in your school board contact Paula Gallo at pgallo@evergreen.ca