Art in the Outdoor Classroom

Recently I attended an Outdoor Classroom conference at Child Educational Center in Pasadena, and took photographs of their outdoor areas. These photos illustrate just some of the ways CEC artfully integrates drawing, painting, sand tray, natural collage, 3-D sculpture and mud pit activities into their outdoor curriculum.

Art and outdoor sensory play provide children with delightful ways to experience the joy of self discovery, especially when these activities are child initiated and teacher supported. Many wonderful sensory activities like making mud pies would be prohibitive indoors but are unforgettable outdoor experiences. Sensory experiences with dirt, leaves, pinecones, sea shells, feathers, wood and other natural materials help children develop a positive relationship with nature and help them appreciate the wonders of earth science.

Here's my favorite excerpt from a handout provided at one of the conference workshops, it is credited to Dr. Bruce Perry, author of Shared Discovery - Shared Learning.

Curiosity and Brain Development

Curiosity.........leads to Exploration

Exploration.....leads to Discovery

Discovery.......leads to Pleasure

Pleasure.........leads to Repetition

Repetition.......leads to Mastery

Mastery..........leads to New Skills

New Skills.......lead to Confidence

Confidence.....leads to Self Esteen

Self Esteem....leads to Sense of Security

Security..........leads to More Exploration

I hope these words and photographs inspire your own curiosity and exploration, and help you discover new ways to integrate art and sensory play into your outdoor classroom.

Materials Shown Here:

Natural Recycled Drawing Paper, 9NCS

Portable Drawing Boards, SCRIB

Colored Masking Tape & Easy Loading Dispenser, TAPESET 

Sea Shells, SHELLS

Natural Feathers Classroom Pack, NATURAL

Wood Geo Shapes, 1000W

Wood Craft Rounds, WOOD50

Colored Wood Cubes, CWCB

Colorations Liquid Watercolors, set of 8 - PLWS

Super Safe Plastic Droppers, 12SSD

Hanging Outdoor Double Easel, HDE