3 Tips for Creating an Outdoor Gathering Place
Where do you gather your children outdoors and why is it so important?
As teachers, we often gather our children on a rug indoors, in a classroom. As parents, it may be at the kitchen table. There’s a lot that happens when we gather. We may discuss the weather, a favorite book, and/or a riveting story. Children like to share. Have you ever thought about creating a gathering place outdoors?
Establishing an outdoor gathering space is one of the first steps to making an Outdoor Classroom and/or Backyard Teaching Garden. These spaces offer a destination to simply read a book outdoors, listen to nature, or begin an outdoor lesson. Outdoor gathering spaces are vital elements to transforming any outdoor space into a teaching and learning space.
Outdoor classrooms and backyard spaces come in all different shapes and sizes. Therefore, the elements of any outdoor classroom and/or teaching garden will vary. The Gathering Place is like the kitchen to a house. It’s a central place and the heart of the garden. It’s a place to read books and share directions for outdoor nature activities. It’s also a place for children to come back to reflect on their discoveries. All gathering spaces are one-of-a-kind. Here are a few seeds of inspiration to get you started.
The 3 Tips for Creating an Outdoor Gather Place include:
1. Find a Location.
- Choose a space outdoors that you can define as your Gathering Place.
- It can be under a tree or in a favorite corner in the garden.
2. Add Seating
- Consider how many children you have in your group or family. Make sure there is enough seating for everyone.
3. Give Your Gathering Place a Name
- Children love naming their favorite outdoor spaces.
- Think of a unique name that includes an outdoor feature near the space. Invite the children in this process.
- Use your gathering place name as a directional when talking about the space. It makes the space come alive.
Here are a few of my favorite gathering spaces.
Do you have an Outdoor Gathering Place? I want to hear from you. Where is your Gathering Place? What materials did you use? What types of activities do you do in your gathering place? How do children respond to it? Do you have smaller gathering places tucked away in your Outdoor Classroom or Backyard Teaching Garden? Share in the comments below.
Want to learn more about how to create a Backyard Teaching Garden and/or Outdoor Classrooms using The Four Types of Gardens? Check out the Teaching in the Dirt: Designing Outdoor Classrooms Master Class.