In Arimunani we play outside whatever the weather … “wellies” days, (and there have been lots!) are the favourite. Getting covered in mud, sliding down a wet slide, jumping in big puddles, catching rain on our tongues, are all great fun.
“I’m pulling my friend who is in a boat made from a crate!” (I´m using all my muscles).
“This friend is too heavy, I need another friend to help me” (building friendships and problem solving).
“Splashing and stomping in wellies sounds different to trainers” (using all my senses).
“Let´s climb! Can I climb this tree, can I jump off this wall, what happens if I go higher?” (Using all our muscles … we know the rules, only climb up as far as you are able to get down again.)
As the playground areas are completely natural, and not constructed, this helps children to push their own boundaries and learn about taking risks.
In Primary the children play in two different areas, behind the school in the morning, and in the playground after lunch. Despite the constant supervision from adults, the children play very independently, resolving differences between themselves, constantly changing who they play with, and what language they play in, depending who is in the group.
In the morning we often have lots of energy so run between the trees playing “pia pia” (catch). We’ve all come from different schools before we met, so had to decide what our rules are for `Arimunani pia pia`.
Sticks, leaves, seeds, mud, puddles, will be more or less available according to the day and the season and “loose parts” such as wooden blocks, fruit crates and old tyres are also provided. These open-ended resources have no set of directions or pre-determined function and so the children’s imaginations can run wild.
“We need to harvest all the plants, we’re making a salad” collecting lots of weeds in a bug pot, (being creative and using our imagination).
Is it a stick, or a sword, a magic wand, or a musical instrument? This limitless adaptability stimulates a world of creativity and imagination. In the morning patio equipment is kept to a bare minimum so that it is open to the possibilities that the weather or a chance discovery provide.
Being outside for an hour in the morning means that when the children go back into class, they are more ready to listen to the teachers and to pay attention because of being outside in the fresh air and using all their muscles. If they need to sit at a desk, their posture is better now because climbing has made their core muscles stronger for sitting and holding a pencil.
Hopefully they will have fewer colds and not get sick often, as being outside to play (especially in different weather) will make their immune systems stronger.
Every time the children go outside there is a constant and ever-changing natural classroom and playground full of challenges, creativity and stimulation waiting to be discovered. The play we observe (from a subtle distance) is also ever changing which inspires us as educators, on where the children´s interests lie, so we can guide their learning in the indoor classroom, bringing the learning alive.