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

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.

Appendix 5

Environment – additional useful links

Insect bites

NHS Inform provides good advice on ticks and the particular techniques you need to know for dealing with their bites.

Health Protection Scotland has created an infographic to share with parents.

The Forestry Commission provides practical guidance.

Lyme Disease Action provides advice.

Controlling invasive species

As set out in section 6.2.8, by law, you must ensure that any non-native species growing or living on your land does not spread into the wild. This includes natural spread – e.g. by seed dispersal – and spread caused by dumping plant material or contaminated soil. You should also control invasive plants and animals on your land to prevent them causing a nuisance to others. As well as the links in the above section, you can also check the Royal Horticultural Society website which also provides guidance on and descriptions of non-native invasive species – and animals - on its website You can also use the GB Non-Native Species Secretariat website to record non-native species which helps NNSS to track and understand the spread of such species.

If in areas of invasive species where you risk spreading pathogens e.g. tree pathogens, consider whether boot/footwear disinfection is required using a broad spectrum disinfectant. Larch, oak and ash are particularly at risk from poor hygiene of footwear after being in an infected area.


Staff need to ensure that gathering and harvesting wild food is undertaken safely and in doing so, they must follow the advice in the Scottish Outdoor Access Code which is based on three key principles:

1. Respect the interests of other people.

Acting with courtesy, consideration and awareness is very important. If you are exercising access rights, make sure that you respect the privacy, safety and livelihoods of those living or working in the outdoors, and the needs of other people enjoying the outdoors. If you are a land manager, respect people's use of the outdoors and their need for a safe and enjoyable visit.

2. Care for the environment.

If you are exercising access rights, look after the places you visit and enjoy, and leave the land as you find it. If you are a land manager, help maintain the natural and cultural features which make the outdoors attractive to visit and enjoy.

3. Take responsibility for your own actions.

If you are exercising access rights, remember that the outdoors cannot be made risk-free and act with care at all times for your own safety and that of others. If you are a land manager, act with care at all times for people's safety.

In addition

  • There should be knowledgeable supervision, teaching children how to forage sustainably and ensuring that:
    • Other animals, birds and insects have plenty to eat. Some rely on very specific types of food at different times of the year.
    • Only common plants growing in abundance are collected, and even then, taking just a small percentage.
    • Wild food is gathered where pollutants and contamination is minimised, avoiding roadsides, near agricultural crops, away from easy access by dogs etc.
    • Food is washed and prepared in line with food hygiene standards.
    • Children can also plant the seeds or scatter them, increasing the habitat of foraged foods.
    • A child always checks first with the practitioner that a particular item is okay to eat.
  • Encourage children to take time to stop and look at the whole plant for accurate identification. Location and the different parts of a plant are all evidence. Practitioners can model using an app or identification book to double check their field observations.
  • Learning about life cycles and witnessing this in foraged plants can deepen children's understanding of how plants grow and give us food.
  • Ensure children can grow food for harvesting and eating. They also need to visit shops so that connections can be made.
  • Remember to ask the landowner's permission to forage.

Potentially harmful plants – links for more information

Royal Horticultural Society

Creative STAR Learning and

Integrating site maintenance into your calendar

Daily, weekly, monthly and yearly tasks might include:

  • Daily site and equipment safety checks, including reporting, repairing or replacing broken items.
  • Routine checks of specialist fire equipment.
  • Fire drills and emergency procedures.
  • A gardening calendar featuring which jobs need doing when. This can dovetail with ongoing learning and play that changes in line with the weather and seasons.
  • Recycling including composting.
  • Tree inspections.
  • Invasive species control (where appropriate).
  • Boundary checks and other security measures.
  • Updating risk-benefit assessments.
  • Checking on, cleaning and in some cases emptying alternative toileting.
  • Cleaning routines as advised in the latest edition of HPS Infection and Control Guidelines in Childcare Settings

Examples for partnership working:

  • Plant bulbs and flowers to contribute to a Britain in Bloom display.
  • Pick up litter – your local authority may provide free kits to groups for collecting non-hazardous litter.
  • Report fly tipping, vandalism and other concerns.
  • Do minor tree work such as removing long grass from the base of planted saplings

Get involved with improving biodiversity: make and put up nesting boxes, create log piles and habitat piles, report sightings of key animals such as bats or red squirrels.



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