Publication - Advice and guidance

Out to Play - creating outdoor play experiences for children: practical guidance

Published: 10 Feb 2020

Guidance and advice for early learning and childcare settings and practitioners on how to access outdoor spaces to create safe, nurturing and inspiring outdoor learning experiences.

Out to Play - creating outdoor play experiences for children: practical guidance
Appendix 3

Appendix 3

Leave Less Trace Nature Play Principles

(adapted from Matthew Browning's work)

Prepare to Play

  • Play in small groups – avoid large numbers on a site or break into smaller groups.
  • Wear sensible outdoor clothes.
  • Avoid littering – go for litter-free snacks and take home all scraps of food waste.
  • Go to the toilet in the designated space and follow the Scottish Outdoor Access Code.

Build and Dig with Care

  • Build dens in places that aren't really fragile - for example, in sand, rock, gravel, grass, and snow.
  • Build with sticks found on the ground - not on trees.
  • Dig holes - but fill them in afterwards.
  • Remember that trees are alive - hugs are great but cuts and breaks are painful!

Respect Things you Find in Nature

  • Ask adults what's safe to handle.
  • Start a small nature collection - bring a favourite object home and leave the rest. Not everything is okay to take.
  • Build a large "virtual" collection - take photos of lots of objects!
  • Climb trees branches bigger than your wrist
  • Find which trees are okay to climb. Some are more fragile than others.
  • Let plants stay at home – avoid moving them and their seeds from one area to another.
  • Try to only pick common wildflowers, berries and fungi. Only pick one or two even if there is a lot around.
  • Find out if there are any invasive plant species which are safe to pick and play with.
  • Find out if there's any plants you can help grow.

Be Nice to Animals

  • Gently catch minibeasts, frogs and toads with hands or nets.
  • Keep hands wet when handling toads and other amphibians.
  • Return captured animals to where you found them.
  • Remember that people food is not good for animals.
  • Make homes for wildlife and then leave them in peace so the animals move in.

Remember You're Playing in A Special Place

  • Treat others as you would like to be treated.
  • Return rocks, logs, and moss to where you found them – they are plant and animal homes!
  • Remove any mud clods from wellies before paddling in a stream.
  • Use scarves other protection to minimise bark damage from use of ropes or hammocks.
  • Agree the boundary of the main area to be used.