Just like us, Muddy Faces wants to share the passion for outdoor play and learning, and is driven by a desire to help anyone seeking to provide all children with more time and stronger experiences outdoors. So they are really excited to announce the launch of their brand new online magazine ‘The Outdoor Practitioner‘ – and we’re excited to let everyone know about this excellent new and ongoing resource.
The Outdoor Practitioner e-magazine is filled with feature articles, case studies/projects, activities and includes contributions from organisations who are passionate about being outdoors. It is FREE to read and download from the Muddy Faces website – click here for the Spring Edition.
If you have a case study or project you’d like them to feature or would like to share some activities of information for the summer edition, please do get in touch with Clare at firstname.lastname@example.org
The main article in the Spring Edition is especially useful, comprehensively providing tried and tested advice about outdoor clothing for a wet climate. I’ve long wished that we could change our attitude to rain across the UK and Ireland – and we know that being suitably dressed is key for this:
“Imagine what a transformation would take place for children’s play outdoors if we looked upon rain as the wonderful, magical resource that young children so clearly know that it is. Imagine if we were to say, “look its raining; quick let’s get outside!”
So I’m delighted that Liz Edwards, director of Muddy Faces and author of this article, generously shares her extensive rainwear knowledge in this slightly edited version.
A note about our ECO annual professional gathering: If you hold a ticket for the in-person event postponed from 20th March 2020, you should have received an email message via Eventbrite last week. If you didn’t hear from us, please get in touch as soon as possible at email@example.com
There’s no such thing as bad weather…. by Liz Edwards, founder and chief imaginer of Muddy Faces
Now you may be expecting this to be followed by “…only inappropriate clothing” (Alfred Wainwright) but I’m favouring a less famous quote “There’s no such thing as bad weather, there’s just weather and your attitude towards it” (as said by me!) as we delve into the whys and whats of outdoor clothing.
Effective outdoor clothing is the most important resource we can invest in to enable rich and sustained play and learning outdoors.
Being comfortable outdoors can increase everybody’s engagement. There is nothing more effective at distracting you from a deep learning experience than feeling damp or cold, as your body focuses on survival rather than higher cognitive behaviours.
If children and adults are physically comfortable outdoors they can start to explore, observe, play and learn. Over time both children and practitioners will grow in confidence and barriers will be overcome. Having the right sort of clothing for your setting will help to embed the outdoors as part of your normal daily practice.
The only thing that can equal clothing in importance is your settings’ values and attitudes to the outdoors. Even with a limited outdoor space, with the support of enthusiastic, invested adults and effective clothing, children can access the outdoors for sustained periods, becoming deeply involved in imaginative and creative embodied learning.
“Human beings are 100% washable & dryable.” Kathryn Solly
Value for money
Buying outdoor clothing can be a significant investment for any setting. Making the decision to buy the cheapest waterproofs you can find may not be the best decision for your setting. To achieve best value for money a number of factors need to be considered:
Activity type: What sorts of activity will the clothing need to endure? Light use – walking and light play such as splashing in puddles and running around – or more heavy use, which might include crawling, kneeling, sitting, climbing, sliding, etc.
Frequency: How often is the clothing going to be worn? Occasionally, eg once a month for an hour or so, or all day, every day?
Try before you buy
Most suppliers are happy to send you samples to help you choose the best option and correct sizes for your setting. If you order samples you need to return them if you are not planning to buy.
It’s a false economy to buy cheaper lightweight brands if clothing will be exposed to a tough environment. The clothing will fail and replacements will be required. But we also need to have realistic expectations of robust clothing, and replacements budgeted for if used frequently.
Muddy Faces Tip
Believe it or not, in the UK, it doesn’t rain the majority of the time – it just feels like it does!
Even if it is not raining during your session, the ground is most likely to be damp. Many experienced practitioners encourage the wearing of waterproof bottoms for protection from the wind, mud, damp and vegetation. Dungarees give the added freedom, particularly for younger children, of being able to lie and play on their tummies whilst still protected from the damp.
If you can afford it, we recommend buying higher quality waterproof trousers or dungarees to allow for the extra wear and tear trousers get compared to jackets.
Factors to consider
How waterproof clothing looks, feels and works are all very important, and providing clothing that children and staff feel comfortable in will support the success of an outdoor project. Choosing items children can put on and take off without major adult assistance promotes independence and participation.
- Removable or adjustable hood – will the hood stay up? Will it go over a hat?
- Comfortable material around face – some zips & seams can be rough or spiky on the face.
- Zip protected from dirt and rain – does the zip have a storm flap and is it made of plastic or metal?
- Arm cuffs elastic or Velcro – to keep hands free & able to move.
- Length of coat – particularly important for adults who squat or kneel, as a short jacket can expose the lower back.
Trousers & dungarees
- Can straps & braces be adjusted? – this will allow a better fit for different sizes.
- Are clips or toggles easy to use? – elastic or velcro makes it easier.
- Detachable elastic stirrup at feet – it is important to have plenty of length in the trouser. If not, when kneeling force pulls on the bottom of the trouser and they may rip out.
- Width of leg cuff fits over boots – if elastic is too tight to go over boot water will run into the boots.
- Waistband and braces not too tight or loose – too tight they dig in; too loose they fall down.
- Height of trouser – a high trouser or dungaree can prevent cold air and moisture from reaching the lower back.
All-in-ones (most of the above applies)
- Length – make sure there is plenty of length for when children are squatting or kneeling
- Colour – how a colour shows up the dirt is important. Navy or black are popular for this reason
- Children with particular needs – you might avoid material that rustles, or specific colours.
How waterproof is the clothing?
An item of clothing labelled as ‘waterproof’ can range from keeping out most of the rain for brief showers only, to keeping you dry whilst exposed to rain for longer periods. A clear understanding of how waterproof an item is will help with comparing products effectively: Muddy Faces has developed a useful waterproof rating system for the clothing it supplies.
Is the material environmentally considerate?
The OEKO-TEX® Standard 100 is an independent test and certification system which most clothing now follows.
Don’t forget the grown ups!
Clothing is as important for adults as it is for children, possibly more important as children tend to be more active and generate more of their own heat. Adults need to be comfortable in order to facilitate good quality outdoor play and learning. They need to be able to move easily and to regulate their temperature to remain comfortable. If this is not the case, then a practitioner could become cold, less interactive and less alert, leading to sessions being cut short even though the children are still fully engaged outdoors.
Muddy Faces are a specialist outdoor clothing supplier with a well-tested range of outdoor clothing and footwear to suit different budgets.
Shop for outdoor clothing and footwear in the Muddy Faces shop
Visit the Outdoor Hub clothing section for clothing guides, including dressing for the outdoors, layering and information for parents.