Outdoor Play

November 03, 2023

For our followers who love knowing that our students are outside every day, weather permitting. Whatever the season, it’s good to know that being outside is part of the day here. Here are some stories for you, with thanks to grantors and donors who support our outdoor play supplies.  

Make sure to also check out our Social Skills Development blogspot!

Kids in Autumn’s Embrace | 11.2.23

Room 5 was outside when a burst of wind sent a vibrant cascade of leaves from the tree outside on our front lawn. These pictures capture the sheer exuberance of childhood in the midst of a crisp, autumn day. Their laughter is contagious, and their delight reflects the magic of the moment. With each leaf that dances in the breeze, a sense of wonder is kindled, and the simple pleasure of being outdoors, surrounded by nature’s artwork, is brought to life. This heartwarming scene reminds us of the sheer joy found in the small, precious moments that define our fondest memories of childhood, and the enchantment of the ever-changing seasons. Mrs. Rebecca was excited to see the kids having so much fun!

Swing Song. 9.12.23

Swinging on a playground swing can feel like a combination of freedom, excitement, relaxation, and pure enjoyment. It’s a simple yet wonderful experience that people of all ages can appreciate. Just ask these guys!


 We Love Waterplay. 8.9.23

On days when the weather is nice, you’ll find one of our classrooms out on the front lawn engaged in waterplay. Waterplay can offer numerous benefits to children, both those with special needs and those with general education needs. Here’s how:

  1. Sensory stimulation and calming: Playing in water engages most of the senses, creating a calming effect as well as a chance to experience a diverse range of tactile sensations.
  2. Motor skills development: Whether pouring, squeezing, or manipulating water toys, kids can improve hand-eye coordination, grip strength, and fine motor skills. Also, movements such as splashing, pouring, or manipulating objects promote gross motor skills and active play.
  3. Social interaction and cooperative play: Waterplay at Crossroads occurs in group settings, providing opportunities for students to interact with one another, communicate, share, take turns, and work together.
  4. Language development: Language-rich opportunities are ample, as students can describe what they’re doing, feeling and playing with.
  5. Creativity,  imagination and concepts: Waterplay experiences are by nature open-ended nurturing use of imagination and creativity, as they experiment with concepts related to sinking, floating, waterflow and volume.

Waterplay activities, as with all activities for children, demand that safety is of utmost importance. Adequate supervision, appropriate water depth, and awareness of any allergies or sensitivities are essential.

Swinging for Turn-Taking. 8.2.23

In a sweet display of camaraderie and growth, students from Room 11 are seen on the playground taking turns on the swings, pushing each other helpfully, laughter echoing through the air. Their happy smiles testify to the valuable life skills they have increased – patience, cooperation, and the ability to share the simple joys of childhood. As they push each other cheerfully, a spirit of togetherness and teamwork pervades the scene, and in this act of play, they demonstrate the essence of empathy and friendship, blossoming into kind-hearted individuals who relish in the happiness of others as much as their own. These gains go far beyond the playground, shaping them into compassionate and considerate young souls ready to embrace a future filled with understanding and caring.

Chalk, Swings and Playground Fun. 7.24.23

Readers know and love the pictures and stories we share from our outdoor play times. There are several activities that are very popular right now, while it’s summer, that we’re delighted to share with you.

Students from Room 5 have a chance to be creative, work together, and be outside when it’s Chalk Time. They are very much spread out on the sidewalk in front of the building, and engaged in making pictures, tracks, and words.

Not far away, Rooms 1 and 7 are gleefully immersed in their time on the playground. There are swings to swing, trampolines to jump, stairs to climb and slides to slide. There’s a rather large sand pit full of trucks and toys, and a sunny patch of grass to just lay back and relax.

Biking and Other Wheeled Action| 5.31.23

Kids are naturally drawn to bikes and other wheeled activities, as these activities offer a unique blend of excitement, freedom, and developmental benefits. The sense of exhilaration that comes from riding a bike, a wagon, or a scooter appeals to their innate desire for adventure and thrill-seeking. The wind in their hair, the speed and motion all contribute to a sense of pure exhilaration.

Additionally, wheeled activities provide children with a newfound sense of independence and freedom. Riding a bike allows them to explore their surroundings, venture into new territories, and expand their horizons. It offers a taste of autonomy and mobility that can be immensely empowering for a child, fostering a sense of self-confidence and a growing sense of competence.

Engaging in wheeled activities enhances physical development. Riding a bike or participating in similar activities promotes balance, coordination, and gross motor skills. It challenges their proprioception and spatial awareness as they navigate their bodies in space, strengthening their muscles and refining motor control.

Finally, wheeled activities often provide an opportunity for social interaction and bonding. Kids can join friends in group rides, participate in races or team-based activities, and engage in friendly competitions. These shared experiences not only foster friendships but also promote communication, cooperation, and the development of important social skills.

Here we find Room 12 enjoying wheeled activities recently.


Swinging with Room 6 | 5.31.23

Swinging can provide numerous physical benefits for children, and our children love the swings. Some of the notable advantages include:

  1. Enhances Balance and Coordination: Swinging requires children to engage their core muscles and maintain balance while moving back and forth. This activity strengthens their sense of balance and improves coordination, which can have a positive impact on their overall physical development.
  2. Develops Muscle Strength: Swinging helps in developing the muscles in the arms, legs, and core. As children actively pump their legs to gain momentum and hold onto the swing’s ropes or chains, they are engaging their muscles and promoting strength development. The continuous swinging motion further works on these muscle groups, leading to enhanced strength over time.
  3. Boosts Vestibular System Function: The swinging motion stimulates the vestibular system, which is responsible for maintaining balance and spatial orientation. Regular swinging can help improve the functioning of this system, leading to better body awareness, coordination, and spatial skills in children.
  4. Increases Spatial Awareness: Swinging allows children to experience different spatial positions and movements, such as going forward and backward, side to side, and up and down. This variety in motion enhances their spatial awareness and helps them understand their body’s position in relation to their surroundings.
  5. Supports Sensory Integration: Swinging provides sensory input to children, which can be particularly beneficial for those with sensory processing issues. The rhythmic motion and various sensations experienced during swinging help integrate sensory information, leading to improved sensory processing skills and better self-regulation.
  6. Promotes Cardiovascular Health: Swinging is a physical activity that gets children moving and increases their heart rate. Regular swinging sessions can contribute to cardiovascular health by improving blood circulation, strengthening the heart, and promoting an active lifestyle.
  7. Enhances Joint Mobility: The swinging motion involves repeated flexion and extension of joints, such as the hips, knees, and ankles. This movement pattern helps maintain joint mobility and flexibility in children, ensuring healthy joint development and reducing the risk of stiffness or immobility.
  8. Encourages Outdoor Play: Swinging often takes place in outdoor environments, allowing children to engage with nature and spend time in the fresh air. Outdoor play offers additional benefits, such as increased vitamin D production, exposure to nature’s elements, and opportunities for social interaction.

Overall, swinging offers various physical benefits for children, including improved balance, coordination, muscle strength, spatial awareness, sensory integration, cardiovascular health, joint mobility, and outdoor play opportunities. It’s a fun and engaging activity that supports their overall physical development. Meet Ms. Julia, swinging here with “P” and “E”.


Getting kids outdoors offers a multitude of benefits for their overall well-being and development. 5.25.23

Here are 3 key advantages of encouraging children to spend time outside:

Physical Health: Outdoor activities provide children with opportunities to engage in physical exercise and movement. Whether it’s running, climbing, biking, or playing sports, being outdoors encourages active play and helps children develop essential motor skills. Regular physical activity improves cardiovascular health, strengthens muscles and bones, and promotes overall fitness, laying the foundation for a healthy lifestyle.

Cognitive Development: Nature offers a rich and stimulating environment that sparks curiosity and enhances cognitive abilities in children. Being outdoors exposes children to new sights, sounds, textures, and experiences, stimulating their senses and promoting sensory integration. Exploring nature also encourages problem-solving, critical thinking, and creativity as children navigate natural obstacles, observe patterns in the environment, and engage in imaginative play.

Emotional Well-being: Being out of doors has a calming and restorative effect on a child’s emotional well-being. Spending time outdoors allows kids to escape from the pressures and stress of daily life, promoting relaxation and a sense of freedom. Natural environments can reduce anxiety and improve mood, providing a sense of tranquility and rejuvenation. Being in nature also fosters a connection with the natural world, nurturing empathy, and instilling a sense of responsibility and stewardship for the environment.

By encouraging kids to explore the great outdoors, we can contribute to their physical health, cognitive development, and emotional well-being, helping them grow into well-rounded individuals with a deep appreciation for nature and the world around them. See students from Room 5 enjoying their playground time recently.

Sandpit Play. 5.4.23

Since Sunday, when our volunteers from Mohawk Auto spruced up the playground for us, it has been raining almost nonstop. Today, however, there were some breaks in the precipitation, and a couple of classes were able to break out of the building and enjoy the playground improvements!

Room 5, a preK classroom rushed to check out the newly refreshed sandpit. Excitedly, they dug their little hands into the soft sand, making hills, tunnels, and castles. The teachers had just added some  toys to the sandpit, including cars, trucks, shovels, and molds, which the children eagerly used. Some of the children worked together, while others preferred to play on their own, but they all shared in the joy of playing in the sandpit. For these children, the sandpit was not just a place to play, but a magical world where they could express themselves and let their imaginations run wild. And as they headed back inside, their faces still covered in sand, they knew that they would return to the sandpit again and again, to continue their fun and exploration.

Thanks to Annie G. for the wonderful pictures!

Check out the link below to see how our playground was shaped up by the Mohawk Auto team! 4.30.23




 Sliding into the Weekend. 4.28.23

We’re celebrating the end of another week of making gains here at Crossroads with an uplifting story about two of our school-age boys who work hard and also know how to play hard. Both have been achieving new social and behavior skills and are able to enjoy playing together more than ever. Today, when the class hit the playground, these two ran hand in hand to the slide. “T” climbed up to the top with “K” close behind him. Both boys, laughing and chatting, slid down the slide with gigantic smiles, and then raced back to the top to repeat the routine. After a while, they were both out of breath and grinning from ear to ear, and it was time to go back to class. As they walked back towards the building, both boys looked so proud of themselves, and full of joy, that we just had to share these wonderful pictures with you, shared by Room 13 Special Education Teacher, Ms.Victoria.

 Team Work 4.27.23

Playing and having fun is an essential part of childhood. One of the most beloved activities on any playground is the tire swing. The tire swing is a classic playground feature that has been around for decades, providing children with hours of entertainment and adventure. However, as any preschool teacher or parent knows, the tire swing can quickly become a source of conflict and frustration when kids refuse to take turns.

But in Room 6, a group of determined preschoolers showed that teamwork and cooperation can overcome any obstacle. The children, ranging in age from three to five, had been having a difficult time sharing the tire swing. Every time one child got off, another would rush to get on, leaving the others to stand and wait for their turn. This was causing frustration and conflict among the children. But over time, under the supervision of the classroom team, students have learned that everyone needs a turn. They’ve learned to call each others’ names for a turn, and even to help push each other.

The tire swing is a symbol of the children’s teamwork and cooperation, and it’s a joy to watch them play and have fun together.

Sand Pit Solutions. 4.20.23

This is what 1000 pounds of sand looks like! We want to express our heartfelt gratitude to one of our wonderful families for generously donating 20 bags of sand for our sand pit. Thanks to their kindness, our students will be able to enjoy hours of fun in the sun while learning and playing together. We appreciate this action of thoughtfulness and generosity; we are so grateful to have such outstanding families in our school community!

Mohawk Auto Group volunteers will be here next Sunday to spruce up the gardens and playground, including rejuvenating our sandpit! We can’t wait to see the joy and excitement on our students’ faces as they play with the new sand in the refreshed pit.

Dusting the winter off of the Bikes. 4.20.23

On a beautiful spring day, Room 12 decided to get the bikes out of storage and do a bit of riding. With the sun shining and the breeze blowing, they were eager to try out the wheels.

For some of our students, riding a bike can be challenging, but with the encouragement of their teachers, they were able to enjoy the experience. As they rode, they laughed, showing the feeling the freedom and joy that comes with being outside and active.

Time for Planting. 4.13.23

Gardening is a wonderful activity that can be enjoyed by people of all ages. It’s a great way to spend time outdoors, get some fresh air, and connect with nature. When it comes to gardening with kids, there are many benefits that come with it. Here are some tips and ideas for gardening with kids that we follow at Crossroads:

Firstly, it’s important to make sure that the garden is safe for kids. This means checking for any sharp objects or dangerous plants that could harm them. It’s also a good idea to teach them about the different plants in the garden and what they should and shouldn’t touch.

Once the garden is safe, it’s time to get the kids involved. One way to do this is to give them their own space in the garden. This could be a small patch of soil or a raised bed that they can take care of. Let them choose the plants they want to grow and help them plant them. We have 3 garden beds at Crossroads, one for flowers, another for herbs and another for vegetables. Although it is too early to put seeds or plants in yet, students are starting seeds in their classrooms in pots, and will later transfer.

Gardening with kids can also be a great learning opportunity. You can teach them about the life cycle of plants, the importance of pollinators, and how to care for plants. This is a great way to introduce them to science and nature. Our Butterfly Science Project is one way connect our students to the topic of pollinators, for example.

Another benefit of gardening with kids is that it can encourage healthy eating habits. When they grow their own fruits and vegetables, they are more likely to try them and enjoy them. It’s also a great way to teach them about where their food comes from and how it’s grown.

Overall, gardening with kids is a fun and educational activity that can have many benefits. It’s a great way to spend time outdoors, connect with nature, and teach kids about science and healthy eating habits. So why not get started on your own garden with your kids today?
























Sledding 2.10.23

The kiddos in Room 4 played on “Snow Mountain” recently. This mountain is over our playground mulch pile, and slopes off onto a large body of lawn, so it is the perfect spot to play.

Classrooms try to get outdoors every day no matter the season, as long as the weather allows. We emphasize the importance of children having appropriate outer wear on a daily basis for this reason.


Snow Play 1.26.23

There are times we all get tired of the snow in upstate NY, yes? This week is NOT one of those times, however! This week’s snow has been absolute perfection when it comes to playing in the snow, specifically making a snowman.

Two classroom teachers sent pictures from their snowman making this week. Both snowmen are are solidly built, and represent a boatload of teamwork, patience, and perseverance.

Room 4

Room 5

Jumping in the Leaves 11.15.22

There’s nothing quite like the feeling and fun of playing in a huge pile of leaves. These leaves are wind-blown up against the playground fence, so the pile has grown gigantic! These kids from Room 5 had a blast in them!

Fresh Air and Exercise 11.13.22

Getting outside is important for everyone, not just children. But since we are here for the children, let’s focus on that. Did you know that spending time out of doors has important health benefits? According to this article from healthiersteps.com, fresh air effects the lungs, mood, digestive systems and more. And when you combine it with physical activity, the benefits are amplified.

Fresh Air Benefits

Here are some students from Room 12 enjoying one of their outside times, all with great smiles!

A Little Help From A Friend 11.8.22

Recently a Room 5 team member sent in these adorable pictures from their playground time. “K” saw that “B” was unable to pump or get going on the tire swing, and initiated going to him to give him a swirl. We love it when our students behave so generously! The class also played a running game on the field side of the fence!

We love getting the kids out of doors!

Last Chance for Water Play – 8.25.22

Now that Summer Session (ESY) is over, the water play toys are all put away until next year. We hate to see this end – it means we are approaching cold weather, with coats and jackets, boots and hats, and putting away our bathing suits for the winter.

That’s why we have one last set of pictures for you! Here we have Room 4 during one of their final days of ESY. They had some Science fun, adding garden dirt, and then watering the flowers.


Playground Moments – 8.5.22

There are so many things to do outdoors, including fun on the playground.

Here we see Rooms 1 and 7 playing together on our playground. They love to see their friends from other rooms, and this collaboration is also a way to generalize social skills to a larger environment.

We also get a sneak peak at students lining up to go back indoors. You can tell by faces that this is a serious time to pay attention.

More Water Play – 6.24.22

At the risk of being redundant, we want to share more delightful times we’ve had with water play. The weather has been super hot and dry of late, and the water play times have been so much fun for the kids. This time we have rooms 8 and 1! We added a splash pad, purchased with snack bar funds this week! Thanks to all of our Snack Bar customers!

Water Play – 7.14.22

Maybe the favorite part of the school week during Summer Session is Water Play, where the lawn is set up with a sprinkler to run through, some water tables with toys, and getting wet is the object. For those who are inclined to stay dry, bubbles and chalk are available on the sidelines.

Students change into bathing suits before hand, and back into dry clothing once done.

All classes have a couple of slots for water play during the week, and we’ll share as many as able. Here we have some pics from Rooms 12, 3 & 4 this week.

To the Moon – 7.7.22

It was hard to decide where to put this post – it could just as easily go under the category of art as outdoors. But when it comes down to it, at trip to the moon is definitely out of doors, and so here we are.

The idea of moon travel arose during snack time yesterday, when the children in DayCare this week during break unanimously decided that the moon was where they wanted to go. After some figuring, Ms. Stephanie creatively came up with a plan to meet her students’ wish.

This morning, she had them decorating this wagon, adding wings, jet engines, and flames. She gave them each a protective astronaut helmet, and then they blasted off for the moon, Stephanie running to beat the band.


What fun the children had, thanks to Stephanie’s enthusiasm and inventiveness.


5.18.22 Playground Moments

The playground has never been in such good shape as it is this spring. We’ve had volunteer groups in making it just so, and the children are very happy to have some new aspects of play to explore.

Notice the great sandpit, which is nice and big and doesn’t give splinters.

5.9.22 Ball Skills on the Lawn

Just two gals having a ball.



4.15.22 Basket-ballers

Room 11 loves that the court (aka parking lot) is now snow-free and basketball friendly. They’ve been getting out a lot recently for some hoop time.

11.19.21 Playground Moments

At Crossroads, the playground is one of the most favorite places to be. While this might be the case at many a school, since we’ve put so much sweat and hard work into our playground over the years, we are especially proud of our students when they are playing appropriately, having fun, and gaining all of the benefits of being out there.

Today’s picture story comes from Ms. Katie, the teacher in Room 2. She sent these, naming them “precious” and telling of how much fun Z was having after learning that he could look out of the tunnel window at her and make silly faces to her.

We love it! We know that YOU will too!

8.10.21 And more waterplay 🙂

Sorry to blow up the cuteness scale with so many waterplay pictures, but, well, these kiddos are just having so much fun we have to keep showing you! In Room 7, a class of 2 and 3-year-olds, there were some that were a bit unsure of the waterplay concept at the start of summer, but as you can see, all fears are far-flung by now.


7.29.21 Waterplay makes the day!

Each class has times during the week to use the hose, sprinklers, water tables, and toys and the students have a blast playing in the water. Yesterday, Room 5 was out there whooping it up. You can almost hear their shrieks of excitement and laughter!


7.23.21 Outdoor play in the Tent!

Thanks to grant support from The Schenectady Foundation, we were able to rent a tent for the summer again this year, to help us continue to keep children safe and healthy. Getting outdoors as much as possible is still recommended, and with the playground in high demand, we’re thrilled to have another outdoor destination that provides shade and cover as much as it does fresh air.

On this occasion, Room 14 is found getting into a wild game of Duck Duck Goose. This is a large class, all boys between the ages of 5 and 7, and they all love to run. Thus a more perfect game to work on names of friends, and interacting with each other can’t be found.


7.19.21 Waterplay!

Summer Session is IN! One of the favorite activities here in summer is waterplay – we have sprinklers, water tables, water toys, and a great big lawn space to enjoy. Each classroom has a regularly scheduled slot and can set up their waterplay activities the way they like.

Here we have Room 2‘s students having fun with a rotating sprinkler. You can almost hear their squeals and laughter from the pictures!


5.18.21 Swinging it!

We’ve all been enjoying the nicer days lately! Room 2 got this great shot of students on the tire swing, having a great ride!

3.1.21 A Walk Around the Lot.

We’ve been fortunate with beautiful days of late, and it’s great to see our classes having a break from the cold to get outside. Room 13‘s walks go around the lot and to the Rotterdam Library and back!

2.8.2021 Fresh air, all year round.

When the weather’s cooperating, and when everyone in the class has their outerwear, classes get outside for fresh air. Now, we’ve had some very frigid temps of late, but on Friday, it was a balmy 38 degrees! Several classes made it outdoors. Here are a few pictures of Rooms 11 and Room 5 and the fun they had!

Parents and guardians, thank you for checking with your teachers about their schedules for outside play and sending in outerwear accordingly.

10.22.2020 Pumped for the playground!

If you’re looking for someone and they’re not in their classroom, check the playground! Classrooms are making great use of it this fall; indeed the weather’s been great for outside play most days.

This is where friends slide, run, climb, balance, jump and swing. We all know how important fresh air and physical activity are for humans of all ages, children most of all. Here on the playground, children get their “wiggles” out, make their bodies stronger, and their actions more coordinated.

Catching up with Room 4 on this day was great. It was a real treat to see smiles and new moves in action.


9.9.2020 Make sure to visit these spots too, for playground-related content:




Gala Gratitude!Hannaford Helps Reusable Bag Program