Category Archives: Outdoor Education

Muddy Buddy

Today when I walked into my classroom, I noticed a large Home Depot box. I was a little confused, as I didn’t remember ordering anything from the home renovation place, so imagine my surprise when I found out our Muddy Buddies were inside!

For those of you unaware of what a Muddy Buddy is, imagine a waterproof onesie with one zipper from the left kneecap to the neck. It has Velcro adjustments for the cuffs and the ankles. When this outfit is on and done up with boots, the little person inside can go outdoors and run, jump, splash, roll, dig and basically be in nature without worrying about getting wet, dirty or scuffed. Some people may wonder why I wanted these so badly for my kindergarten classroom. Easy answer: 20 kids with wet clothing all needing to change or call home. The Muddy Buddy lets us go and get dirty without worrying and being uncomfortable.

Muddy Buddy

The kids all tried one on and were given one for their hooks. After lunch, it was time to take them out for a trial run. People may not realize this, but part of Kindergarten is learning simply how to dress oneself. The first 15 minutes for Muddy Buddy time was simply figuring out where ones legs go, how to zip up an industrial strength zipper, and what to do with the Velcro. This lesson will need to be repeated many times before we all know how to get into the suit, but once they are in it, we are ready to roll (literally).

We started off out outdoor exploration today by finding our tulips and daffodils that we planted back in October. Unbelievably enough, they are coming up. The observations included:

  • I planted mine over here and there is nothing there. Why not?
  • Look at how there is one stem here and 3 over here.
  • This one has paper peeling off it.
  • Why isn’t the pumpkin we planted growing?
  • It looks like a water plant.

There was so much comparative language going on over height, number, and even colour of the sprouts. I only pray that we do not get a sudden freeze and kill all of them.

Is it Spring?

Is it Spring?

We ventured down to the lower field where we do most of our explorations, and today I had set the intention of our outside time. Our big question: What can you do in the Muddy Buddy?

Interestingly, there was actually quite a difference in their behaviour today. The kids seemed more willing to take some chances and weren’t as concerned when they toppled over, climbed a tree or were wrestling with a friend. Some ELL boys who have never attempted a tree climb decided to give it a go today, and ended up discovering a “dragon cave” in one of the big evergreens. It developed into a game of “Don’t Wake the Dragon”. Some of my girls were finding large rocks that reminded them of eggs, and started to create nest like hollows in the dirt where they could hatch the eggs. They were sitting in the dirt and leaning on the trees without concern. My little G stumbled at one point. He picked himself up, brushed himself off and claimed, “I’m okay. The Muddy Buddy is tough and it doesn’t hurt.” Another little one told me that falling doesn’t hurt as much in a Muddy Buddy. Who knew these articles of clothing had such power?


IMG_3747 (2)

Finally we all lay down in the damp grass, and gazed at the clouds to discuss what we saw. I think they were hungry, as I heard “Cupcakes! Cotton candy! Ice Cream! Marshmallows! A donut! Bacon!” Yes, bacon. It was an experience to remember and treasure.

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The Wonders of a Plan

Today I tried something new. We usually get all dressed to go outside and play in the field, but today, I tried something new. It wasn’t a big change. It wasn’t awe inspiring or even all that brilliant.  However, I tried this new thing, and it had results. You may think these results are not huge, but in my mind, they are BIG.

You see, we get dressed into our wellies and slickers, or our winter coats and our mitts (depending on the weather, and we go outside. We try to stop at “our” tree and look to see what it’s doing to get ready for winter (I’ll talk about those observations later). But today, we started at the carpet in our classroom and I asked a very basic question to these 4 and 5 year olds. I asked, “What’s your plan for outside?”

Instantly, hands shot up. (Yes, they have figured that out on their own) “I’m going to look for bugs and see if they are underground!” C said. “Ooh, lets see if they are getting ready to hibernate!”  O mentioned. (Guess what we are exploring about for science).  “Leaves! I want to find more leaves!” Y remarked excitedly.

Some of the munchkins just wanted to roll down the hills and that was just fine. That was their plan. Roll and run and see how rolling works. One wanted to hunt for earthworms, because he loves earthworms and wants to show his friends. A rallying cry of “Freeze Tag!” was called by a gaggle of boys.

I realized in that moment that I had underestimated these small geniuses again.  We hadn’t ever verbalized our ideas for outside explorations, yet they were teeming with ideas of what to do and look for. They were thinking. Really thinking and figuring it out in their heads with their prior knowledge of our outdoor space. Imagine if I asked that before “centers” time or when they came inside every day. Oh, the possibilities in the planning mind of a 4 or 5 year old.

For the first time since we started going outside, these people didn’t wrestle and rough house. They could have. It’s the time they are allowed to. But today, they searched. We found dry sap on a tree, discovered a tree had been cut down and looked at the rings in the trunk. We used the trunk as a stage to sing our new favourite song, Oh Canada. Icy chunks of dirt were discovered by an area we have never explored before, and we looked at the layers in these “mudsicles”. Geese flying overhead had us looking at the shapes they created and the circles they flew in while they started to land. Spiders were disturbed in their nooks and crannies as we hunted for bugs and earthworms. Grass stains were numerous and muddy hands became the norm during our time. R even climbed the highest she ever had in the fork tree.  The leaves on our tree have all fallen off and there was great concern that it had died, until NMR remembered the word “dormant” and convinced others the tree was just getting ready for a long winter sleep.

I learned today that these kids of mine have plans. Plans that I can help them with if I simply ask.  I need to ask. I need to put the day plan aside more often and just ask these kids, “what’s your plan?”

As an aside, you may be wondering how this relates to my Technology Project. I am focusing on helping other teachers in urban areas access nature in the concrete jungle. This will tie in when we start using our iPads and Cameras to document what we are observing, doing some scavenger hunts while online and more. It will all tie together.

Trust me. I have a plan.

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