Love your load

26 October 2008 · 0 comments

in International, Play Resources

I have been on a search for decent types of portable outdoor seating. Whilst it’s great to have a wooden log or bench outside as part of one’s “outdoor classroom”, the truth is that they are not comfortable, warm or dry at all times. Despite a couple of decades of growing outwards rather than upwards my rear remains insufficiently padded.

Many of Swedish pre-school children have little foldable insulation mats. Folding seating makes good sense for walks and activities where you have to carry gear. The best deluxe versions come from the Mountain Equipment Cooperative in Canada which have back support. I use little stripy mat from Polarn O Pyret as it folds up zigzag style and great for storing in my general outdoor bag.

Most Swedish outdoor schools have larger mats which can be stacked and have handles for carrying. These are a little bigger than the fold-up versions.

Lastly, there is the ultimate right-on must-have environmental seating… which scores more points if you have made it yourself. This is a felt mat. I have one. These stay warm when wet because it’s wool. You can make them into beautiful works of art through different choices of colours. I’ve seen schools which have dyed the wool using natural dyes prior to felting. Mega cool. Also once the mat is worn, you simply tear it into little pieces and chuck on the compost bin to rot away.

So my advice to teachers who are rushing to plan and implement outdoor activities as part of a Curriculum for Excellence, take a look at your behind and give it some comforting thoughts and attention. Wide loads need love.

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