Developing outdoor areas

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By Sue Cowleyeducational author and trainer

Original article published 14 October 2011

The outdoors is a fantastic environment and resource for young children, full of a wonderful range of sensory inputs. They can breathe in the fresh air and watch how the sky looks with the ever changing weather. They can listen to the birds sing, dig in the mud and see plants grow through the seasons.

Child playing outdoors

The outdoors is also an ideal space for messy and mucky play, for having fun with water and splashing in the rain. In addition, the outdoors offers a great chance for your children to learn about managing risk and keeping themselves safe.

Creating a new outdoor area

When you’re planning to create a new outdoor area, consider the following practicalities:

  • How will you fence off the area and keep it safe? As a packaway setting, we use sturdy but lightweight metal barriers.
  • What will you do about shelter in the winter, and shade in the summer?
  • How will you involve the children in planning for your new space?
  • What risks are there, and how can you overcome these?
  • How will you resource all areas of the EYFS?
  • Where will you store your resources, and how will these be accessed?
  • Can you include an outdoor tap? We have found this invaluable for all that mucky water play!
  • Can you include spaces for planting? Will the planting be temporary (crops, annual seeds) or permanent (fruit trees, perennials)?
  • Who will maintain any garden areas?
  • What can you include to ensure winter interest?
  • Is there space and finance for permanent structures, such as a climbing frame or playhouse?
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  1. jo reed
    on 15 October 2011

    yes but?

    I would love more info - where to get a PVC freeflow curtain - how much it costs???What grants and where to obtain them????Examples of non-static winter activities???
    Also yes in an ideal world freeflow is the answer and 1 in , 1 out and someone floating between but in school Nursery classes this is not going to happen unless you have fab crb checked parent helpers - we do 2 days each week but not otherwise at present. We still provide free-flow with 2 staff every other day because we believe in it 110%