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Child-led outdoor play

Cowgate Under 5’s Centre

Cowgate Under 5’s Centre in Edinburgh uses a holistic approach to promote children’s learning through spontaneous, creative play. Children are encouraged to develop autonomy and self-confidence. Using Outlast blocks, children at Cowgate have given adults an insight into their potential for learning and creativity.


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Our guiding principles are based Friedrich Fröebel's philosophies so on play as central to learning, the child-centred approach to education, negotiation of children about things that they would like to do rather us being an adult lead environment.

Very they were very much advocates of children and childhood and believe that we should be celebrating what's happening today. We believe very strongly that the learning that goes on in our environment comes through the experiences, the resources and the opportunities that we provide for our children. We've had the Outlast blocks now for about two months. We've tried very much to create an environment outdoors that is quite mobile and transportable, but we do have fixed structures in the garden.

If we have a choice, we wouldn't have any kind of pre-structured equipment in our garden. We would just have lots and lots more of the Outlast blocks. The way the children have used them and created spaces. Their telling us stories with these blocks. I really genuinely believe we cannot anticipate all the potential of these blocks are going to bring for each setting.

We are going to build on this resource, I think we need more because we've seen such richness of play. And I think some of the engineering we've seen where children have created scenarios where they need to get from one place to another. A lot of lava play and children created a bridge from Outlast that was so strong, so robust, because the plans fit so neatly into the block that they could traverse the bridge quite safely. And I've seen a lot of that kind of play with the children are are negotiating the space by going up and over using the blocks.

And because blocks fit together so beautifully, they create something that's really strong and really substantial which they often want to be left so they can return to it and add other things.

I would say this is one of the richest resources we've ever had. I can hardly believe it's taken so long to have outdoor because it's such such a rich resource with all all practitioners throughout early years will all be desperate to get a set, there no doubt about that!
Topics
Outdoor and nature, Froebel
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