By Diane Spahn and Kasey Kile

Many indoor materials get a “new life” by bringing them outdoors for a few hours or a few days. Moving materials from indoors to out, even temporarily, helps children recognize possibilities for grouping materials in new ways, increases options for problem-solving and encourages children to incorporate natural materials as they play and discover.

Take Indoor Materials Outdoors For The Day:

  • Magnifying glasses, tongs, and other observation tools can be collected in a bin, used outdoors, and returned to your indoor spaces after cleaning. Consider the Discovery Boards (that come with mini magnifiers) as a great new resource to use outdoors. 
  • Musical instruments – plan for an outdoor music-making session once a week and include a parade or dancing to encourage large motor play.
  • Rubber Ramps – take outdoors for experimentation. Use rocks, tree stumps, Korxx Big blocks, or sandbags to elevate the ramps to form hills and valleys. Consider placing a couple of sections of the ramps on a grassy slope for some comparative ball races. 
  • Sorting Stones, Sensory Stones, Calming Stones, Count and Thread Stones, and your own collection of natural rocks, beach pebbles, or polished stones are all easily washable and make wonderful loose parts for creating giant mandalas or patterns on playgrounds and grassy areas.   
  • Stackable Pans and kitchen materials make great additions to the outdoor mud kitchen or sand area. These are great containers to add variety to storage on shelves, but are durable and easy to clean for outdoor use. Add in play stones,  sensory sound eggs and sorting eggs to encourage dramatic play outside with additional natural materials. 

As you begin bringing indoor materials outside, ensure that you have a process for getting materials back inside. Not all materials are intended for extended outdoor use due to weather. Encourage children to assist with the process and create a ‘check-in and check-out’ system as a visual for both children and adults!