Open Discussion Forum

Topic: Outdoor play in winter 

1.  Outdoor play in winter

Posted 12-15-2017 06:02 PM
I am looking for resources to support outdoor play during winter weather. Regulations are vague about what constitutes "inclement weather" in NY.
I would love to see program policies that support taking children out to play in the snow as well as any resources that are used to inform families and staff about the value of playing outside, even when it is cold!

Additionally, how do programs assure that proper attire is available for children to use? And what about a place to put the snowsuits, boots, mittens, hats, etc...?

Thank you!

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Mira Berkley
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2.  RE: Outdoor play in winter

Posted 12-18-2017 11:13 AM
  |   view attached
While I can't speak particularly to NY, our program is in WA and we follow this policy for outdoor time:
"Outdoor Play: At least 20 – 40 minutes Part Day programs (2.5 – 3.5 hr); 40 minutes for FD programs
(6 hours), 60 minutes Extended Full Day programs (10 + hour) over 2 time /day; except during
inclement weather*."
"*When weather, air quality and environmental conditions pose a significant health or safety risk as identified
by the National Weather Service (wind chill factor at or below minus 15 F or temperature above 90 F.)"

I have also attached another guide I found on weather safety, as well as the info below from our handbook that goes home with all families at enrollment.

"Physical activity is an important part of school readiness. When children are active, their brain develops and works better. Children do not get sick from going outside in the cold or in the rain, so children will go outside rain or shine. Children go outside for a minimum of 60 minutes per day, spread out over at least two sessions, except during inclement weather (When weather, air quality and environmental conditions pose a significant health or safety risk as identified by the National Weather Service (wind chill factor at or below minus 15 F or temperature above 90 F.)

At Bates, we recognize that children come from a variety of backgrounds, cultures, traditions, and experiences, which will influence their attitudes around physical activity and exercise. Children can gain cultural awareness by exchanging games and engaging in a variety of physical activities together.

Cold weather does not cause colds or flu. However, viruses that cause a cold and the flu are more common in the winter when children spend more time indoors."

As far as proper attire goes, if a family asks or staff notice that a child is in need of weather-appropriate clothing, we have spares that we provide at no-cost (we work with a majority of low-income families who may not be able to afford it) or we can refer to community clothing banks. We also start reminding families just before the weather is turning, or as soon as it does, to please be sending their children with a change of clothes in case they go out in the rain. Rainboots are stored in children's cubbies when not in use. We don't have snowsuits, but perhaps those could be hung on a clothes rack to minimize the space they take up. 



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Melissa McPheeters
Bates Technical College
Tacoma WA
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Attachment(s)

pdf
weatherwatch.pdf   91K 1 version


3.  RE: Outdoor play in winter

Posted 12-19-2017 09:07 AM
To hear what Rusty Keeler has to say about outdoor recess, check out "How Cold Is Too Cold for Outdoor Recess?" It's a fun conversation!

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Rae Pica
Rae Pica Keynotes & Consulting
Alexandria VA
www.raepica.com
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4.  RE: Outdoor play in winter

Posted 12-19-2017 12:26 PM
This is an interesting conversation to have with parents. As an Army spouse, we were stationed at Fort Drum in upstate NY. I had a family childcare home. I took the children outside to -10. Even if it was just for a few minutes. Currently I run an accredited program in Fairbanks, Alaska. Our guidance is pretty specific. We take infants outside to zero degrees, toddlers to -10 and preschool and school age to -20. Up here parents must have quality winter gear for their children. It's a safety issue. In January we can spend most of the month at -40 or colder. The other problem we have is that we have some of the worst air quality in the nation. The colder it gets, the worse the air. We mandate that the children can only play outside if the particulate count is "good" or "moderate". Even at moderate we restrict the time outside to 30 minutes.
We have discovered that the time we spend outside, even at cold temperatures, is a remarkable way to help with behavioral issues, stress issues, the mood of the children and their ability to focus when they come back in. Even the infants, who often sleep through their time outside, show the same effects of outdoor winter play. Even the teachers benefit from their time outdoors, expressing when they come back in that they feel more relaxed and focused.
One last note: one area that is tricky is their outdoor gear. Children who are dressed correctly will definitely have more fun. We have also discovered that a thin layer of Aquaphor helps prevent windburn and frost nip.

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Rixa Evershed
North Pole AK
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5.  RE: Outdoor play in winter

Posted 12-20-2017 08:47 AM
Rixa, thank you for your contribution to this discussion! I realize everything is relative, and that even 40-above can feel cold to those in the southern states; but it's really important for people to know the children can handle those cold temps if they have the appropriate clothing. I'm especially glad, though, that you mentioned the benefits you see from giving the children outdoor time!

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Rae Pica
Rae Pica Keynotes & Consulting
Alexandria VA
www.raepica.com
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6.  RE: Outdoor play in winter

Posted 29 days ago
Thank you for this great discussion.  I agree that it is relative to where you are, but also important for children to get outside every day.  I'm in Minnesota, so we have a wide variety of temperatures, storms, and humidity.  Our state and our program don't have temperature standards, but we do talk as a staff when the weather is getting very hot or cold to talk about activities to keep children active, what to wear as staff members, reminding families to send in proper gear, and what might be dangerous- such as very high winds, lightning, or extreme hot or cold.  To prepare our program we have a wide variety of snow boots, wool socks, neck gaiters, extra middle layers like sweaters, etc. to help keep children safe and comfortable while playing outdoors.  However the best gear won't keep adults and children very warm if they are not moving- so we have sledding, snowshoeing, large blocks for building, painting with colored water in spray bottles, and more to keep everyone engaged and warm.  We also ask staff to come to work as prepared as the children for active outdoor play and that makes a big difference.

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Sheila Williams Ridge
U of MN Lab School
Minneapolis, MN
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7.  RE: Outdoor play in winter

Posted 29 days ago
Oh- I almost forgot to mention my two favorite resources for getting outdoors in the winter

The Wild Weather Book: Loads of things to do outdoors in rain, wind and snow by Fiona Danks and Jo Schofield

Snow Play: How to Make Forts and Slides and Winter Campfires by Birgitta Ralston.



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Sheila Williams Ridge
U of MN Lab School
Minneapolis, MN
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8.  RE: Outdoor play in winter

Posted 18 days ago
I want to thank all of you for participating in this discussion about outdoor winter play! I am very glad to have the resources and information you have shared to pass along to programs/providers in my region. At this moment, we are having serious winter weather, with so many opportunities!! Cheers!!

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Mira Berkley
Fredonia NY
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9.  RE: Outdoor play in winter

Posted 17 days ago
Sent from my iPhone




10.  RE: Outdoor play in winter

Posted 8 days ago
I just had a wonderful 3-day camp, ages 4-7, mostly outdoors with temperatures between -15 and 0 degrees.  The most important aspects were proper gear and preparation, appropriate expectations for children needing a warm-up break, and activities designed to keep their bodies active and their minds engaged.

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Sheila Williams Ridge
U of MN Lab School
Roseville MN
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11.  RE: Outdoor play in winter

Posted 7 days ago
I'd love to know more about the camp!!
Thanks!

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Mira Berkley
Fredonia NY
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