Early learning and childcare - Out to Play: guidance for out of school care providers - section 10

Supplementary chapter 10 should be used alongside the main Out to Play document to support the delivery of outdoor experiences in Out of School Care settings.

Creating Your Space

One of the main factors when thinking about your outdoor area is what opportunities and experiences will the space offer the children. Children’s opportunities and experiences outdoors should be different to and complement indoor experiences.

How do you as a playworker create a high-quality environment? Section 5 Creating your space provides guidance on creating a high quality environment and below we have outlined some areas you may want to give particular consideration to.

Get the children involved

If you are thinking about using play spaces other than your own outdoor space, involve the children and encourage them to carry out site visits, play audits as well as risk/benefit analyses of these spaces (see Appendix 4). Give children ownership of their play spaces in a range of ways. For example, they could clean and clear the play space of any litter, grow plants, fruit or vegetables in their play space, or build structures.

Let them create the boundaries, co-create rules, and involve them in developing hygiene and toileting routines.

You can include children in outdoor training too, such as fire building or den making. Involve them in the planning of these sessions by making lists and delegating responsibilities.

Providing shelter

Consider where the nearest shelter is. You do not need to provide this unless you are a satellite or outdoor setting (see Section 5.3 Providing shelter) but you should make sure you know where it is in case of sudden extreme weather. You could also provide or make temporary shelters with tarpaulin, pop-up tents, branches etc. Children can be encouraged to participate in the construction of shelters.


If you are not using your own outdoor space, make sure you know where the nearest toilet is. If you plan to stop at a green space en route from the school to your service’s premises, encourage children to use the toilets before leaving the school.

Clothing and kit

Ensure that children have the correct clothing such as waterproof jackets. Do children have a change of clothes? Do you have spare wellies if children need them? The best option is to have a spare set of dry clothes that they can change into at the end of their play session outdoors (make sure you consider how you will afford children privacy and dignity to change). Can you provide appropriate outdoor clothing for children if needed to ensure equality of access to the outdoors?

Have outdoor bags with suitable resources (for example balls, magnifying glasses, paper, pencils, pens, pegs, ropes, slacklines, spades, string, tarps) packed and ready to grab and go. For more information and ideas, have a look at the Loose Parts Play toolkit.

Off Grid Kids highlight the need to be prepared! Not all indoor activities will translate well to outdoors and you may have to adapt, improvise and change direction quickly. This is where thinking and planning ahead is really important.

If you’re going further afield, consider what play resources would work best in the outdoor space you’re using, what games could you adapt or invent. Think about creating an activity booklet (laminated to protect against the elements) that children can have a look through when they’re feeling a little lost about what to do next. This can also be a great diversion when you quickly need to redirect children who’re being a bit boisterous.

Keep an eye on the weather forecast too. ‘Bad’ weather doesn’t have to stop play but you do need to make sure that children (and staff) have the right clothing to enable them to have fun outdoors.



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