One of the first questions I asked when applying for a new position at the preschool where I currently work: Do you have water access for outdoor play? Surprisingly, there didn’t seem to be any water play done outside; however the current educators did frequently take children for walks to the beach where they had access to water.
I knew we needed water access in the outdoor play area somehow but I was concerned about the water bill as the preschool rents the building and I thought if we start using water it might become cost prohibitive. Finally, I talked with another educator who mentioned that their preschool had a rain barrel with a tap that the children could turn on and off themselves. Brilliant, I thought! We need to make this happen.
And now, we have it… a brand new rain barrel all hooked up to the eaves and operational!
So now sometimes there is water and sometimes there isn’t but I look at it this way: the yard changes with the seasons and there are different opportunities for play depending on the season and the weather. If the children use the water up quickly then they can find other things to do until the rain comes and the barrel fills up again. I expect that in the summer time, we will fill up the rain barrel with a hose some of the time but there will need to be a limit. After all, we are very fortunate to live in Beautiful British Columbia where water is plentiful but we know that is not the case everywhere in the world.
Here are some of the new play opportunities the children have that they did not before:
- learning to turn the tap off and on/ helping each other to do this
- words like full, empty, heavy, light
- learning about the idea that trees and plants need water to live
- finding out what happens when sand and water mix together: magical mud pies!
- learning about concepts like evaporation
- observing water to find out how it behaves
- pouring water, filling vessels with water, discovering how much water different vessels will hold
- working together to create pools of water in the sand box
We have lots to celebrate with this new rain barrel and the new play and learning opportunities that are open to us!
The best classroom and the richest cupboard is roofed only by the sky. -Margaret McMillan