|A large uncovered sand pit.|
Through Twitter & a Teachmeet I attended in February I got talking to a teacher who was intending to send her child to the school & we agreed that we would stay in touch so we could arrange a visit for me & when I then mentioned it in school of course my colleague wanted to come along too. So we set off for one afternoon & even thought it was a journey of almost 2 hours it was well worth it.
|Loved this slide & simple steps|
The setting is in a fabulous, rural area just outside the town of Letterkenny. There is a building on the site that houses an area for the children to have a mid day meal or for the babies who aren't yet walking & therefore are a little too small to be outside.
Then on the site there are also 2 outdoor toilets & an indoor area where the children take their mid morning snack, do art work or take refuge on days of extreme weather. Although Kathleen the staff member we spoke to, said it is quite rare for children to request to go into the room. As they have more preschoolers who are toilet trainned they found they had to install an outside sink are for handwashing to alleviate queues at the toilets! They have loose gravel all over the space, much like I had seen in Norway rather than safety surface, though there was some around the climbing frame. There were lots of little areas for children to explore e.g. places with lots of loose gravel for pouring into drain pipes, small stones beside weighing scales & mirrors down at a low level for mat play. They had a work bench under a perspex cover so it is available in all weathers. There are big tractor tyres for the children to climb inside or over, depending on their age, size or skill level.
The natural stream has been landscaped into a large pond with big stones in it & we saw photos of children sitting on the biggest stone fishing. There is a very steep bridge over the stream into a mud pie kitchen area, in 2 areas, out in the open with a big range cooker & then another in a pergola, again offering shelter in wetter weather.
When we were there there were just two 2 year olds & a 7 month old baby & would have loved to have seen it in full flow with the 16 children ranging in age from 7 months to 4. Most of all I wish it was nearer so I could take my class on a visit, they would love it!
A big thanks go the staff at Glen Outdoor School, Glenswilly, Co. Donegal & to Susan for the introduction.
(Everything is painted green & gold as the county won the All-Ireland football final last September)