Essential Outdoor Gear for All Seasons

“There’s no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing.”

― Alfred Wainwright, A Coast to Coast Walk

Good quality outdoor clothing is an important part of playing and learning outdoors. Children can focus on exploring with less concern about being cold or wet.

The wide variety of options and prices of outdoor gear available can be a challenge to navigate. I have created some guidelines to make this process easier.

Dressing in layers is important. Layers make it possible to adjust temperature, add an extra layer of waterproofing and also replace wet layers with dryer ones for a second outdoor session.

Cold/Wet Weather Gear

Outer layer:


For the outer layer, the child will need a rain jacket and pants or a one piece rain suit. If you select jacket and pants, bib style pants are preferable for extra protection.

This Outer layer should be made of a waterproof and breathable material. Unfortunately breathable means that it will not be a hundred percent waterproof (even though they are labelled as such). The only materials I have found to be completely waterproof are not breathable which makes them hot and sweaty.

The best material I have found for the outer layer is Rip-proof Nylon coated with either Thermoplastic Polyurethane (TPU) or Durable Water Repellancy (DWR). The waterproof rating should be 8,000mm.
Look for ‘fully taped seams’, a hood with a brim and elasticized sides and either elasticized cuffs both on wrist and ankle or an adjustable velcro style cuff.
Avoid fleece lining as it takes a long time to dry out (It is better to have a separate fleece layer).

Make sure the outer layer has enough room to fit a warm jacket underneath.

Middle layers:
Ensure the child has a few choices for the middle layer :
Polar Fleece,
A light jacket

In very cold or wet weather use an insulated jacket along with the fleece layer, water resistance adds extra protection. Avoid hoods with excess trim.

Base layer:
For the base layer (long sleeved top and pants) look for Merino wool or polyester (cotton does not dry out very well) and wool socks.

Boots:

Neoprene is best for warmth while also being waterproof, for added protection, be sure to place the cuff of the rain suit or pants over the boot.

Gloves:

Are these gloves suitable for both boys and girls?
After all they will still keep hands warm and dry.

Look for Polyurethane with a fleece lining and a long elasticated cuff with elastic wristband. It is important that the lining can be pulled out from the inside for drying (not removable). Place cuff over top of the rain suit or jacket sleeve. A mitten style is easier to put on than a glove with fingers. With a well fitted waterproof mitt, children can still use their hands well, correct fit is important.


Hat:


A simple beanie type hat without pompoms or attachments fits snugly under the hood and gives extra warmth. The hat also adds protection for when the hood comes off which inevitably happens during active outdoor play.



Warm Weather Gear

For warmer weather, consider UV protective quick dry clothing. Long sleeves and long pants will protect skin from scratches and bumps as your child explores risky play.

Quick dry clothing allows children to explore bodies of water when the interest takes them.

Water Shoes:
A closed toe shoe that is made of a quick dry material such as polyester. Ensure the sole has grip.
Avoid plastic slip on shoes or flip flops.


Outdoor play takes some getting used to. Be supportive and encouraging if a child is new to the outdoors. Structured activities such as games, walks and scavenger hunts can help a child get used to being outdoors in all weather.

Loose parts play

What are loose parts?Loose parts are open ended materials that children are able to move around, change and manipulate. They include recycled materials, found objects and nature materials. Outdoors, there are many loose parts available such as rocks, leaves, acorns, pinecones, seeds and sticks. How will children use loose parts?Children can create, design and tellContinue reading “Loose parts play”

Project Ideas

The Reggio Emilia philosophy guides children’s learning by responding to their interests, this leads to valuable project work. Here are some project ideas that have developed through the children’s interests in our Early Years group.

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