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By Jean EvansEarly Years consultant and author

Keep moving with imaginative role play while developing essential gross motor skills

Boy on tricycle

Activities in this article:

  1. Emergency, emergency
  2. By the sea
  3. Action stations

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1. Emergency, emergency

Create exciting outdoor role-play scenarios by converting existing equipment into emergency vehicles

Knowledge and Understanding of the World


Development matters: Are curious about the environment (16–26 months); Show an interest in the world in which they live (30–50 months).

Early learning goal: Observe, find out about and identify features in the place they live and the natural world.

Group size: Small groups.

What you need

Road signs poster

Outdoor vehicles, such as cars, pull-along trucks, bicycles; reclaimed materials to transform vehicles, such as blue plastic or red fabric; role-play uniforms and resources for emergency services; telephones; chalk; road signs (toy replicas or copy and laminate the signs on this issue’s A2 ‘Road signs’ Poster or our online exclusive individual Road sign cards ).

What to do

Talk to the children about their experiences of the emergency services and if they have ever seen a fire engine, ambulance or police car hurrying to an emergency: Which features define an emergency vehicle; colour, flashing lights, sirens? When would we call for an emergency service and how?

Suggest transforming some of your outdoor vehicles into fire engines, police cars, motorbikes, ambulances and paramedic cars. Discuss how you might do this and support the children with techniques and resources. Create road layouts with chalk and introduce road signs.

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