Outdoor Play and Learning
Outdoor Play is an important part of early years’ work with children. There are many benefits for children in spending time outdoors, including physical development and a sense of emotional and cognitive well-being. Outdoors is where children will experience a sense of freedom, engage with the changing seasons and nature, and develop friendships. For some children, outdoors is where they prefer to be and find it easier to communicate. There is a growing body of research to suggest that children are spending less time outdoors compared to previous generations which makes it even more important for us to provide quality environments and experiences for them in our own outdoor environments and the wider community. This section of the website will look at current articles and debates on outdoor play and include inspiring case studies.
Risk and outdoors play
Risk assessment can be a huge concern for early years practitioners, but depriving children of opportunities to take control over aspects of their lives can only adversely affect their development. To read Jay Ramsay’s thoughts on risk, please click here (copyright Jay Ramsay), or go to an article published in Nursery World which tackles this thorny issue.
The Outdoor Audit
The Outdoor Audit has been produced in conjunction with the Bristol Standard. It is designed to help you reflect on all aspects of your outdoor provision and to plan for improvements. The inspiring photos taken in Bristol settings will give you ideas and there are useful contacts in the back of the booklet. Access to the online audit is available free to Bristol settings and a password can be obtained from your Foundation Years Consultant. If you are outside Bristol and would like to use the audit there is a charge of £25. Contact Nicky Bale for details: firstname.lastname@example.org 0117 9031270 When you have been provided with the access password you may go to the Outdoor Audit here.
Loose Parts Play
When resourcing an outdoor environment it is important to have a range of materials including real objects which children can use in a variety of ways and for different purposes. Natural materials are the best resources as they can ignite children’s curiosity and encourage multi-sensory, open-ended play. By including recycled materials such as tubing, beads, fabrics and metal you will help children to transform everyday objects into their own creations. Other loose parts such as boxes and crates, tree stumps and wooden planks help children to use their imaginations and create their own play spaces. There is more potential in these than any plastic toys. Useful websites: Children’s Scrap Store Let the Children Play Further reading: Loose Parts Inspiring Play in Young Children by Lisa Daly & Miriam Beloglovsky Loose Parts 3: Inspiring Culturally Sustainable Environments Paperback by Lisa Daly & Miriam Beloglovsky – 3 Apr 2018
The team at Lantern were very excited to be given a grant to develop their outdoor learning environment in back in 2017. Two years on Nicky Bale visited them to see how things have developed. Liz Taberner, the previous manager, talked enthusiastically about the impact...
Little Foxes is a pre-school provider based in the historic woodland at Stoke Park estate and provides nursery education and childcare for 34 three and four year olds. The pre-school was set up and is managed by Lizzie Staite, Julie Wheeler and Janie...
Forest School Leaders Training
The One Show’s Mike Dilger goes to the woods to talk to Forest School students about what they have learnt on the Leaders training course and how they will apply this with their groups.
Tyre and plank walkway
Go open the door. Maybe outside there’s a tree, or a wood or maybe a magic city.
The Door by Miroslav Golub
Early Learning contacts
Nicola Theobald, Early Years Improvement Officer
Nicky Bale, Foundation Years Bristol Standard Consultant
Smi Pearce, Foundation Years Consultant Assessment and Transition
Kate Hubble Foundation Years Consultant
Beth Osborne Foundation Years Consultant Birth to Three