Portable seats for outdoor learning

13 June 2011 · 10 comments

in Play Resources

Outdoor learning is here to stay in Scotland. This means that schools are having to adapt what they are doing to ensure children and young people have frequent, regular and progressive opportunities to learn outdoors all year round.

One helpful resource is comfy seating outside. There are lots of types available on the market. I’m a fan of seats that are portable and can be easily carried by each child during off-site trips. These are usually cheap to make or buy compared to bigger, bulkier chairs and seats. It means that they can be dried and stored more easily too.

Here’s a selection that are designed to fold up

Over the years, I’ve tried and tested quite a few versions and blogged about my thoughts. My favourite portable seats are homemade felt ones. The downside is that they make great insulation but water will seep through so better used as a second layer if children aren’t wearing waterproof over trousers.

These are a great outdoor art project. Made even better if you can source suitable local wool

Some portable seats have a habit of blowing away if you don’t sit on them or weight them down. So if your school or centre is in a windy place, then look for robust versions.

Some foam seats silently tell children to pick them apart. It’s a fun thing for fidgety fingers.

“Go on… pick me to pieces. You know it’s fun!”

The heavier, more robust versions do cost more but will last for many years and stay put a little longer. Try approaching local shops and ask for a discount for bulk purchases.

This version is the most highly rated in a portable seat test carried out by a group of 9 year olds

I mostly have these “space mats”. They are lightweight and because I am constantly visiting and working in so many places, I have a habit of losing seats. So I need a cheap option.

A lot of people reckon carpet tiles make great outdoor seats. I’m not a big fan of them as they are too heavy to be portable and take a long time to dry out. In a wet climate like Scotland this does not bode well. But do persuade me otherwise…

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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Pam June 13, 2011 at 23:12

I love these ideas! I have some small “stadium seats” I found at the Dollar Store one time. Your post reminded me that I have these hidden away! They would make great portable seats for outdoors! Thanks for the great ideas!

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Juliet Robertson June 14, 2011 at 06:45

Of course! I never thought about stadium seats- we don’t have these in the UK per se but I remember the uncomfortable seats in stadiums.In fact I take my portable seats to football matches.

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lorna June 14, 2011 at 07:04

Great blog-it is great this issue is being considered! As chartered physio, specialising in paediatrics, occupational health & ergonomics, I have just developed a wedged floor sitting cushion for children and staff. It can be used in and outside and even on pupil chairs to improve posture.@jollyback

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Juliet Robertson June 14, 2011 at 07:28

Hi Lorna

I’m really interested to find out more about your wedge. A sore back is one reason why some teachers and children feel they can’t work outside. Every little bit of support helps! Literally and figuratively

Best wishes
Juliet

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jenny June 19, 2011 at 08:59

We use the space mats too Juliet – they are light and easy to store and so convenient just to whip out of the storeroom when needed.

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Sam July 25, 2011 at 20:14

sorry for a posting so long after your orignal post!
When I was in guides (many many years ago!) we made our own outdoor mats. Using thick strips of folded newspaper, we weaved the strips to make a square mat. We would then cover the mat with paper (I think!) and decorate to our hearts content. The mat would then be covered in good old sticky back plastic!
I had the same mat for a number of camps so they must have worked!
I am thinking of trying these with the children in September – they would be light to carry around the outdoor space. Will let you know how I get on!

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Juliet Robertson July 31, 2011 at 14:12

Sam

I remember making those seats too! Thanks for the reminder!

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Sam August 2, 2011 at 09:19

There is a company in Devon called Putnams that have been making portable seats for 30 years, it’s called the country seat.

http://www.putnams.co.uk/images/country_seat_image_1.jpg

http://www.putnams.co.uk/sitting.htm

It’s very robust and has been used by my family constalty for years without trouble.

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Juliet Robertson August 2, 2011 at 12:43

Thanks Sam

These are interesting links. It’s good to have these ready as some times it’s the matters like seating which can so easily off-put people from taking children outside.

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