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There has never been a more important time for educators to make outdoor play a priority for their students. It is one of the best things that we can do for their health, education and well-being.

The benefits of outdoor play for children is well documented and includes:
1) improving focus and concentration
2) promoting problem solving skills
3) promoting leadership and communication skills
4) increasing physical activity
5) increasing the body’s vitamin D levels
6) reducing anxiety and improving mood
7) enhancing imaginative and creative play
8) developing a stronger immune system

The less time children spend playing outdoors is linked to:
1) obesity
2) type II diabetes
3) high blood pressure
4) high cholesterol
5) anxiety disorders and depression
6) attention deficit disorder

An outdoor sensory classroom space where children can engage in a range of gross and fine motor play activities that allow them to dive in, hands first, and explore new experiences is one of the best ways for children to learn. Children’s senses are their most familiar, most basic way to explore, process, and come to understand new information. As they are better able to use their senses, they are then better able to learn through their sense.

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JHAC Preschool Outdoor Sensory Classroom

School:
Campbell Park Elementary School 
Subject:
Special Needs Students 
Teacher:
Beatrice Engwall 
Students Impacted:
50 
Grade:
Pre-K 
Date:
April 11, 2017

Investor

Thank you to the following investor for funding this grant.

 

John Hopkins All Childrens Hospital - $3,500.00

 

Goal

There has never been a more important time for educators to make outdoor play a priority for their students. It is one of the best things that we can do for their health, education and well-being.

The benefits of outdoor play for children is well documented and includes:
1) improving focus and concentration
2) promoting problem solving skills
3) promoting leadership and communication skills
4) increasing physical activity
5) increasing the body’s vitamin D levels
6) reducing anxiety and improving mood
7) enhancing imaginative and creative play
8) developing a stronger immune system

The less time children spend playing outdoors is linked to:
1) obesity
2) type II diabetes
3) high blood pressure
4) high cholesterol
5) anxiety disorders and depression
6) attention deficit disorder

An outdoor sensory classroom space where children can engage in a range of gross and fine motor play activities that allow them to dive in, hands first, and explore new experiences is one of the best ways for children to learn. Children’s senses are their most familiar, most basic way to explore, process, and come to understand new information. As they are better able to use their senses, they are then better able to learn through their sense.  

 

What will be done with my students

This outdoor sensory classroom will be an ongoing program that will be continually improved to better suit the needs of our students. Our long-term goal would be to have this area expanded to include

1) a large vegetable and butterfly garden
2) Expanded outdoor play spaces to further develop the gross and fine motor skills (large covered sandbox; climbing and balancing structure).
3) outdoor science area for exploring (like a pond with fish and tadpoles) more plants, animals and nature.

We see in our kindergarten and primary grades, students who have limited expressive vocabularies, no background knowledge of the world they live in and unable to effectively engage in cooperative problem solving and learning. This outdoor classroom experience will give our students entering kindergarten an expanded expressive vocabulary, background knowledge of the world they live in and ability to engage in cooperative problem solving and learning,
 

 

Benefits to my students

An outdoor learning area rich with sensory learning (sensory tables, music, art, gardens) promote many skills, including but not limited to the following:

Cognitive
The cognitive skills sharpened by sensory play are problem solving and decision making. Watch a child with a problem and various materials with which to find a solution, and you can almost see the connections their brains are making to reach their solution.

Linguistic
Sensory play encourages children to use descriptive and expressive language, and to find meaning behind essentially meaningless words or gibberish (slimy, mushy, gooey, etc…).

Social and Emotional
Sensory tables allow children to be in complete control of their actions and experiences. Control boosts their confidence in decision making and inspires their eagerness to learn and experiment. Sensory play can also teach kids about cooperation and teamwork.

Physical
Sensory play benefits the development of fine motor skills by encouraging manipulation of materials by mixing, measuring, pouring and scooping. It promotes gross motor skills like exploring surfaces, lifting, throwing, rolling and water play. 

 

Describe the Students

We see in our kindergarten and primary grades, students who have limited expressive vocabularies, no background knowledge of the world they live in and unable to effectively engage in cooperative problem solving and learning.

Students are 3-5 years of age, low-income, most are low performing and many have challenges to learning at grade level (ESE, ASD, etc.) 

 

Budget Narrative

We hope to generate inkind contributions from local building supply companies to help with some of the materials expenses. Much of the equipment above will not be purchased commercially but will be constructed from off-the-shelf building materials. We hope to use volunteer labor for much of the construction. 

 

Items

# Item Cost
1 Indoor/Outdoor Painting Center x 2 $560.00
2 Sensory tables x 4 $1,200.00
3 Water table $300.00
4 Outdoor music equipment (pvc, hoses, etc.) $250.00
5 Water flow sensory board building materials $250.00
6 Raised garden $250.00
7 Storage Shed $1,200.00
8 Stain & sealing materials $100.00
9 Landscaping materials and prep $1,000.00
  Total: $5,110.00

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