Playing outdoors and the experiences children encounter are often remembered for a lifetime and through incorporating an outdoor environment with learning goals provides depth in a curriculum which could be difficult to implement with an indoor environment (The Scottish Government, 2010). The Little Hobbits curriculum is as an outdoor curriculum catering for Kindergarten age group of 4-5.
The Little Hobbits Curriculum is an outdoor curriculum that allows children the opportunity to experience the outdoors first hand, allowing the children to be lifelong learners and to become healthy and confident individuals (The Scottish Government, 2010). Outdoor play has ...view middle of the document...
Using an outdoor program allows the children to engage in their own learning and the learning environment provided through the outdoors is relaxed, supportive with the opportunity for observation, scaffolding, and further exploration of the children's interests and activities. (The Scottish Government, 2009). Ambrose & Armstrong (2009) state that an outdoor curriculum promotes a child's physical health as well as cognitive, emotional and social development.
Margaret McMillan first developed an outdoor program in 1914 with her open-air nursery school. Bilton (2010) states that while there was shelter for poor weather, the real learning environment was in the garden, a planned space where adults played with children as the children were able to discover, learn and play. Learning through play in an inviting and natural environment is a way for children to develop as it offers first hand sensory experiences (Bilton, 2010).
The Little Hobbits Curriculum follows various theories regarding how children learn. Developmental theorist Jean Piaget's theory states that children imitate what is occurring around them and this is how they understand how things work (Noble, 2010). Piaget's theory can be taken one-step further using Lev Vygotsky's theories of learning. Vygotsky states that learning takes place when children play, through interactions with others, children will develop their knowledge, and that the children's cognitive development becomes linked to their physical development and their social interactions (Noble, 2010). The Little Hobbits Curriculum supports Vygotsky's Socio-cultural theory of the Zone of Proximal Development and it is utilised within the principles and aspects of learning by assisting children through scaffolding in order to achieve success (Fraser & Gestwicki 2002).
The Little Hobbits Curriculum also recognises Marilyn Fleer's theory on conceptual play. Fleer (2013) states that conceptual play has a focus on the relationship between play, learning and development as play is a leading activity and if the community values play, it will help the development of the child. With conceptual play, children create an imaginary situation, they use metacommunicative language for their imaginary actions, they share their play with others, they demonstrate emotions during the imaginary play and with imaginary situations and children change and discover new and different social positions (Fleer, 2013). An outdoor environment offers more space to move, more freedom and children use different movements than they do inside and this is vital for children to develop their co-ordination and experimenting with moving their bodies (Ambrose & Armstrong, 2009). It gives children the opportunity to have first hand contact with the natural environment by having the ability to use their five senses (Ambrose & Armstrong, 2009).
Alabama Department of Children's Affairs . (2012). Alabama Developmental...