Early Years Outdoors

This blog is getting too big! To help pre-school practitioners, this page is dedicated to you, to save time searching and wondering whether a post is going to be suitable. In Scotland, the Early Level within Curriculum for Excellence includes Primary 1 where children may 6 years old. So this section is also relevant for those practitioners who are working with this age group.

Here’s links to different posts in this blog:

The Early Years Outdoor Learning and Play Books

This blog post is a useful reading list for anyone wanting to learn more about this aspect of provision.

Messy Maths is Published

Juliet’s first early years book… all about maths outdoors. Read more about it here and feel free to ask questions directly.

10 Ideas for….

10 Ideas for Mud Play

Perfect for International Mud Day 29th June.

10 Ideas for Rainy Days

Lots of wet weather challenges and exploratory activities.

10+ Ideas for Windy Days

Enjoy the excitement and freedom of playing with the wind!

10 Rock, Pebbles and Stone Play Ideas

Just the ticket for any time of year.

10 Little Stick Activities

Exactly that!

10 Puddle Play Investigations

Lots of lovely ways to learn around and about puddles

Using Puppets Outdoors 10 Tips and More

Ideas and suggestions for using puppets outside. Check out the link to the video clip. It’s inspirational!

10+ Ideas for Using Story Stones

Story stones are one of the most versatile creative literacy resources. Time to create some and get those stories flowing!

Shells- 10 Ideas

It’s surprisingly hard to find lots of ideas about using shells – I hope you enjoy this selection.

10+ inspirational ideas for placing mirrors in outdoor spaces

Lots of little and large suggestions inspired by a visit to Highway Farm Little Explorers Outdoor Nursery

Outdoor Activities

Seafood Investigations

Finding out about seafood through exploring the leftovers! Not as gross as it sounds!

Ambulatory Activities

Activities on the go for young children

Weathering and Cracks

Looking at earth processes taking place all around us

Reflections on rock collections

Everybody needs a rock

Urban Tracking

Heads down and walk through the town to see the history of activity

Nature Design Principles

Using these seven themes advocated by David Sobel to plan and develop outdoor learning and play opportunities.

Laminated Leaf Hunt

looking for and matching leaves outside

A Portable Water Wall

When older children made one for the nursery and P1 classes

Sensorimotor Axioms of Play

Reflecting on a water wall activity

The Sensori Water Station

Take Tom Sensori Bedard’s work and making it even bigger and better outside

An Outdoor Music Wall

The Biggest Splash

Enjoy inventing water games now that summer has arrived
Congratulations Mile End Nursery!

Amazing Mazes

Give children a challenge and see where they take it

Labyrinths, Spirals and Ropes

Creating labyrinths from rope and chalk

A Rope Trail for Everyone

A sensory reflective experience for adults as well as children

Making Spider Webs Outside

Using ropes, ribbons and enthusiasm

Surfaces for Bikes and Trikes

How can we improve bike play for our children?

Design ideas for bike, trike and scooter play

How to improve bike play inspired by Macquarie Lake Variety Playground, Newcastle NSW, Australia.


Lots of uses and suggestions for activities for all ages

Creating Bird Friendly Schools and Nurseries

Top tips from RSPB Officer, Claire Marsden

When Trikes are Not Enough

Car washing in school

Literacy Activities


Linking stones to their potential for literacy and maths activities

Listening Activities Outside

Using your sense of hearing

A Blog Wordle

Using wordles to support outdoor learning activities

Reading Books Outdoors

Some basic advice to get this going. (Psst! It’s really very easy!)

Let’s Get Writing Outside!

Practical tips for organising writing outside all year round

Creating a Writing-friendly Outdoor Environment

Improving your outdoor space as a place to write

Full Stops Outside

Punctuation inspiration from outside

Orientate Yourself to Outdoor Learning

Outdoor literacy workshop based on circles

Circle Poems in Action

Using tyres for poetry work

Recycling Books for use Outdoors

How to lengthen the life of a book by taking it outside

Introducing Letters

Making letters from natural materials

Story Stones and Thinking Skills

The power of abstract designs on story telling

The Story of Fred the Ted

Using landmarks and literacy with young children

The Comedy Carpet

Outdoor literacy at its best

Sticky Letters

Creating letters using double sided sticky tape and natural materials

Letters from Sticks

Using sticks to create capital letters

Alphabet mirror letters

For seeing letters and outdoor spaces in a different way

Reading Outdoors with Fred the Ted

A World Book Day activity

Beware – Extreme Signage

Environmental print that is not so welcoming

I’m in Charge of Celebrations

An Earth Day activity using this book as a springboard

Nature Detectives

How to keep your secret messages secret outside!

Learning on your Doorstep

Ideas for developing writing outside – more for older children but some adaptable activities

Wishing Rods and Speed Breakers

Beech folklore and public art used to inspire writing outdoors

Celebrate the Wonder of Nature with a Byrd Baylor Book

Using books as a springboard into learning outside.

Fairy Gardens and Literacy

A super context for fantasy small-world play outside. It’s been an ongoing project in Westpark nursery.

10 Outdoor Ways to Celebrate Books

Time to get outside, get active and enjoy reading or finding out more about books. 10 suggestions to get you started.


The story of the holly, the pine and the robin. A little Christmas tale to warm your heart.

Forming Letters Outdoors

Practical suggestions to support children as they move into this process

10 useful fiction books for nature play and transitions

A budget approach to books bags or story sacks. Just add nature play ideas – no need to worry about missing jigsaw pieces anymore.

Maths Activities

Rainbow Maths Sticks

Brilliantly simple concept! Perfect for learning about patterns, relationships and mathematical rules.

20 Something Maths Pictures

Using natural materials to practise cooperatively counting 20 objects

The Game of Nim

An ancient strategy games for 2 players

Outdoor Reflections

Where symmetry begins

Reflections into Symmetry

Moving onto to play based experiences in the outdoor space or school grounds

Scale and Geometric Patterns with Sticks

Infinite possibilities for recurrent patterns

Number Bonds with Sticks

Lets get the mental maths going with stick tapping fun!

Using Sticks to Understand Fractions

Making a fraction wall from sticks

Stick Logic

Creating triangles from sticks

An Outdoor Clock

A simple clock to tell the time outside

Measuring the Size of Sticks

Incredibly simple activity for young children

Measuring Sticks

One big stick for measuring everything and anything!

The Black Spot – Pirate Maths Outdoors

Shiver me timbers! A landlubbing activity looking at sycamore leaves for work on numbers

Open-ended Playground Markings

Explore shape, position and movement in different ways through designer playground markings

Does Money Grow on Trees?

Looking at traditions around money and trees

Rainy Day Rubbings

Exploring pattern outside

A Maths Stick Picture Game

An open-ended picture play game with sticks

An Outdoor Memory Game

A good way to introduce or revise the concept of pairs

A Number Pebble Game

Infinite possibilities for learning about patterns, rules, attributes and number recognition

White Line Pebble Maths

The brilliant dance of potential when nature is used to explore maths and art concepts. Just sit down and play! Perfect for the beach or sand pit.

The Magic of 1-Metre Rope Snakes

Introducing Sammy the Snake to help your children learn about measurement, fractions, forming numerals and many other aspects of maths.

A magical maths moment

When a play-based activity turns into a mathematical game. Lovely guest post from Niki Willows.

15 Minibeast Outdoor Maths Challenges

Lots of beastly maths ideas for different ages and stages…

Masking Tape Shape Explorations

An nature-art approach to learning about and exploring the properties of 2D shapes

Give your old tarp a maths makeover

Brilliantly simple approach to exploring properties of 2D shapes especially if you have an old tarp that could be re-used. Perfect for free play or continuous provision.

Outdoor Maths books and packs

This is a list of books and lesson plans, etc.

The joy of a pocket-sized cotton ten frame

How a little foldable cloth ten frame can aid outdoor investigations within and beyond number work.

Art Activities

2D shape art with leaves

A brilliant blend of art, maths and science using the colour and shape of leaves as a starting point

Outdoor Weaving Inspiration

Never has long threads and textures been so appealing. Lots of ideas from different EY settings.

Leaf Art

Inspiration for leaf art from Alan Kain’s Go2Play session

Felted Stones

Very simple, wet outdoor activity

Using Gathered Wool to Make Felt

A great outdoor art project for all ages

How to make a felt outdoor seat

The ultimate environmentally friendly solution

DIY Woolly Welly Warmers

Creating felt insoles for winter warmth

Using peg looms to weave

A must-do fundraising textile project for all ages

Peg loom seats

A simple way of making portable mats for sitting on, using heritage breeds of wool

Sea Glass

Collecting and admiring the beauty of litter

Still on Stones

More ideas, especially art ones for using stones

Snow of Wonder

An arty activity in the snow

Snow Stencils … and Blood!

Stencils, sprays and syringes and using them outside

Give your Ugly Fence a Makeover Campaign

Ideas for using fences

Fence Art: the Creativity Continues

More fab ideas from Inverallochy School

Collaborative play outdoors

Shared play through a big fence

An Ugly Fence Gets a Makeover

Beautiful fence displays

It’s a Fence Party! Come and See

Fraserburgh South Nursery fence gets a huge makeover

Eco Art in the School Grounds

More than just fences and so worth a look!

Guerrilla Environmental Art

When you see vandalism and all you have is a bag of clay

Displaying the potential of the outdoors inside

Beautiful displays to make your mouth water from Durham EY Outdoors Conference

There’s a worm at the bottom of my garden

Clay worms for leaving outside

A Pebble Mosaic

A random act of discovery of a pebble mosaic in Lytham

A Physically Interactive Sculpture

The Lakeland Panorama in Morecambe, challenging play for everyone

The Sand Dog Sculpture

A bag of sand can be placed and used anywhere

The Art of Woodland Play

When public art and play features come together on an accessible woodland walk. Great ideas for transferring to other places such as school grounds

The Necessity of a White Sheet

An essential item when working with natural materials outside

The Stone Stacks of Aberdeen

The art of rock balancing – suitable for all ages

Funky Junk Art

Creating sculptures for your outdoor space using recycled wood off-cuts, Perspex, CDs and a lot of imagination.

UN World Environment Day – A Child’s Right to a Better World

Celebrate our environment through a children’s art project.

The Curiosity Shop

An interactive old-fashioned mural, designed for stimulating imaginative and dramatic play.

Winter Activities

Snow of Wonder

An arty activity in the snow

Winter Bites with its Teeth

Lots more snowy activities

Christmas Outdoor Activities

Ideas for a festive season outside

The Advent Garden

An alternative outdoor calendar of sorts

A Christmas Tree Enterprise

What to do with non-native sitka saplings

Star Parties

Star gazing events for schools and clubs

Frozen Tree Decorations

And it’s not even Christmas. This works well throughout winter.

Snow Stencils … and Blood!

Stencils, sprays and syringes and using them outside.

Frode Svane – Adventure play in snow

Inspiration from Norway

Snow Fun 15+ Ideas

Several of my favourite activities, all in the one place!

Shadow Play

All year round activites for exploring properties of shadows

Shadow Explorations with an iPad

Photo Booth provides an alternative way of investigating an capturing shadows

Open Ended Props in the Snow

A few simple resources for developing imaginative play

Autumn Activities

Conkers Part 1

How to collect and prepare conkers

Autumn Wires Featuring Berries

An engaging activity collecting berries and autumn fruits

Death, decay and new life

Autumn and dealing with death

The Good, the Bad and the Fungi

Mushrooms in schools are a lot of fun

Developing Thinking Skills with Leaves

Creative thoughts about leaves

Making Rose-hip Syrup

A war time solution to avoiding scurvy!

Exploding Leaves

A nature jigsaw

Autumn Memory Mobile

A simple follow-up activity to help children remember an outdoor experience or walk and to celebrate autumn

Leaf roses

The art of folding, rolling and wrapping leaves into flowers of all shapes and sizes

Spring Activities

Nettle Soup

A belated Earth Day activity


How to make the perfect Pace Egg

The Snowdrop Story

Why snowdrops show that spring is coming

An Easter Egg Trail

A lovely end to the term with older children creating a trail for younger ones to follow

A Crocus Labyrinth

Reflections on flowers and the humble crocus

Dandelion Play 10 Ideas

Games, recipes, activities and challenges galore!

Digital Technology

ICT Outdoors in the Early Years

Ideas for using digital technology outdoors

The Hidden Park

Fantasy iPhone game to play in a local park

New Year – New Perceptions

Using a camera to view the world differently

Photo Booth Outside

Using this iPad programme to explore place outdoors

Park Benches & Staring at Screens

Thoughts about our relationship with digital technology

Photo Collages as Keepsakes

Capture those outdoor experiences with Photo Shaper

Cloud Shaping and Making

Using Photo Booth to explore clouds

Skitch Those Water Walls!
Annotating photos of design ideas


A Bird Feeding Garden

A natural alternative to traditional hangers and bird feeders with curriculum ideas included. A must read.

Confessions of a worm worrier

Advice for establishing a wormery

Worms with attitude

what to do when you find a worm

Squirrels and birds

Squirrel proof bird feeders

Wee green fingers

Advice and information about biodiversity gardening with young children


Celebrating a new garden in style

Gardening at Inveraray Primary School

Have a look at this West Coast example

Plants, Containers and Raised Beds

Some thoughts about the play and learning value of these items


The ins and outs of making compost

Ponds in schools and nurseries

Some thoughts, ideas and examples

Creating a pond from a tyre

My mini pond is growing!

Communities and Gardens

An adult learning project leads the way for practical and enterprising approaches to gardening that schools can use for ideas and inspiration

Check out this Greenhouse

An amazing indoor experience!

Do you have a poisonous plant in your school garden?

The answer is likely to be “yes” and everyone is just fine

Zen Gardens

A reflection upon creating meditative landscapes

How to Make a Seed Bomb

A spot of guerrilla gardening!

A Wonderful Wildlife Garden

Former professional wildlife gardener turned RSPB Officer, Ella McLellan, gives some useful advice and food for thought about wildlife gardens in schools

Log Piles – Creating a Flourishing Wildlife Community

The old-fashioned log pile is an essential feature in any school ground or outdoor space and great for biodiversity.

Minibeast Hotels and Other Residences

Exploring a variety of man-made minibeast dwellings. Upcycle, recycle, be artistic and creative and enjoy seeing the wildlife move in.

Origami Seed Packets

A simple way of making packets to collect and store seeds. Brilliant!

Kickstarting a whole school approach to gardening

Riverbank Primary School’s garden trug show! Before long they could rival Chelsea Flower Show!

Minibeast Habitats

A selection of very simple and doable ideas for making your outdoor space more welcoming for our little creatures.

The Soapwort Experiment

Using a natural soap for hand washing – easy to grow and use.

Woodland play and learning, nature kindergartens, etc. in the UK

What do you seek in a wood for play?

Ideas about the unique nature of a woodland which gives it high play potential?

If you go down to the woods today

Nature Nurture Project, Camphill Aberdeen

Nature Nurture

A free play project for vulnerable children

Mud Pies

Family fun in the woods with lots of pre-school children

Woods for Learning at St Mungo

Super example of a woodland developed by a school in partnership with rangers

Forest school

A couple of clips

A Forest Kindergarten Session

An afternoon spent with St Paul’s nursery

The Scottish Skogsmulle Sessions

What happened in Scotland when the children met Skogsmulle

Literacy in the Woods at the Secret Garden Outdoor Nursery

A free play approach to literacy acquisition outside

Cowgate Under 5’s Centre

Come and look!

The Affordance of the Big Steps

Changing perceptions about features in our environment.

The Urban Beach Visit

Finding nature in the heart of the granite city. In the middle of winter. Amazing and inspiring.

The Clootie Tree

A positive, peaceful tradition which can be established in a peace garden or other special place.

Tree Trunk Holes

Have you got any of these wonderful play features in your neck of the woods?

Dunblane Nature Kindergarten

A transformation from a traditional to nature-based practice at this establishment. Great example of supporting and empowering staff through the process.

Outdoor Nurseries and Forest Kindergartens in Scotland

A list of the outdoor EY settings in Scotland. Please let me know if you know of others.

An interactive palette play station

Fabulous messy play area at Fort William Stramash Outdoor Nursery.

Simon Nicholson and the Theory of Loose Parts – 1 Million Thanks

A tribute post to Simon Nicholson to celebrate his paper than inspired future generations of play workers, educators and outdoor practitioners.


Winston Churchill

The travelling fellowship

Shady solutions

Using trees for shade and shelter

Asphalt to Ecosystems

An Interview with Sharon Danks, author

Asphalt to Ecosystems Part 2

The interview continues. Great advice about school yard transformation

The Squelch Factor: Mud

In celebration of International Mud Day

Skogsmulle – Learning for all the Senses

International training for children and nature

A Swedish Skogsmulle Session

An account of a morning on a Mulle Walk!


A Swedish outdoor pre-school

Inside an Outdoor Pre-school in Sweden

A quick tour to satisfy your curiosity

Lessons in Life Principles from the Okanagan People

A little reflective thought about system change needed in education

Czech Pre-schools – A Forest Project for All

First of three post about outdoor activities in CZ nurseries

Bringing Nature into a Czech Nursery

A much-loved village nursery that developed its grounds

A Czech Pre-school at an urban environmental education centre

It’s amazing!

A Swedish Forskola

A photofest of ideas from a Swedish pre-school’s outdoor space

Waldkindergarten – Forest Kindergarten in Germany

Find out more about the German approach to outdoor nurseries

The Urban Beach Visits

Finding the wild side of Aberdeen through the use of a local beach

A bespoke Lithuanian cafe play park

A beautifully constructed compact and bijou playspace for children.

Saules Gojus – The new year starts outside

An international school that has a 2-week immersion in the forest at the start of every year.

Dry Creeks and Streams

Great examples of dry creeks and practical advice from Australia

Rio Tinto Naturescape

A specially designed free play space in the bush – in the heart of Perth, Western Australia

Pallets and Pre-School Outdoor Spaces

Glendale EC Centre in NSW, Australia, provide inspiration for use of pallets in their outdoor space.

the Joy of a Slide

A core part of any outdoor space are places to slide. Enjoy the examples in this blog post.

A Naturalised Outdoor Space for Babies

Kookaburra Korner in NSW Australia – lovely example.


12 tough resources for outdoor play and learning

A run down of resources which are tough, can be left outside and withstand high amounts of use

Little Essential Items

10 useful bits and pieces for outdoor play

Fatal attraction and My latest crush is ASDA

Buying resources at sale times from supermarkets

Love your load

Portable outdoor seating

How to make a felt outdoor seat

The ultimate environmentally friendly solution

Portable outdoor seats

Some tried and tested examples

Make your own outdoor seat

A simple homework activity

Eco-Guilt and Outdoor Seats

What would you do to re-use these seats?


A portable storage solution


An essential outdoor resource

Magnifying Play

The fun of magnifiers

Primary one outdoors

General advice about continuing the frequent access to outdoor play

Blue Tarp

How do you use yours?

Blue Tarp on a Windy Day

And this is what happened…

Transparent Tarp

A wonderful resource – a must for any pre-school or school

More about Transparent Tarp

The variety of uses continues

Water Play with Blue Tarp and Tyres

Big water experience for all ages

Water Play with a Tarp

Ditch the parachute and balls for this challenging alternative

Guttering in Pre-school

An essential resource for water and other big play experiences

Bamboo Guttering

Versatile, tactile, lightweight and suitable for all ages

The Tripod Made with Guttering

a quick way to make a den, hang things, etc.

Big Rope Play

Ways of using a discarded climbing rope in pre-school

Reflections on Rope

Rope work ideas with children of all ages

The Magic of Masking Tape

A big play experience with the little sticky stuff.

More Masking Tape

The story behind one day in nursery

The Mystery Tubes

The open-endedness of a flexible resource

Come and Play

Recycling household items and unwanted clothes into toys

Stones at Cowgate U5 Centre

Wherever you look, there’s stones to be seen


For outdoor play, display and learning!

All I want for my reusable Christmas is

Lots of materials that can be reused outside

All I want for my natural Christmas is

Lots of nature’s treasures!

Space blankets

Scrunchy crunchy man-made material

The Moveable Bench

seats that facilitate a child’s ownership of a place

Outdoor Play with Bread Crates

A versatile resource in any outdoor space

The Forbidden Fun of Compost Bins

Repurposing a garden object

Stump holes for play

Nature’s pockets

Palettes for Re-purposing and Play

A super play garden made from wooden palettes!

The Black Suitcase

Essential for storage and play

The Big Plastic Pipe

A big, tough piece of kit designed for years of play

Willow Arches and Panels

Much more than den building goes on with this resource

Wooden Logs and Stumps in Schools

Great big loose parts for great big play experiences

Repurposing Charity Bags into Dance Resources

Create a little dazzle-dazzle outside with these weatherproof dance resources.

DIY Clipboard Flower Press

Big or small, you can now press plants easily and quickly when out and about.

Milk Crates

Lots of “crate” ideas for outdoor play!

Health & Safety – and getting outside anyway!

Outdoor Hand Hygiene

Thoughts and advice for schools and nurseries

The Good, the Bad and the Fungi

Mushrooms, children and schools

Risky business

health and safety in education

To live is to risk

End of year thoughts

Ode to toilet tubes

You can use them. The children won’t die.

Where to go when you need to go

Toilets outdoors


Safety when walking outside with young children

Bad weather, clothes, activities and parents

Teenagers in cold weather

Outdoor Play at Cowgate U5 Centre

Lynn McNair writes about the approach to risk, challenge and outdoor play.

Health and Safety: Have you heard the latest…?

Finding out what myths are out there.
The latest batch of “believe it or not’s!”

Outdoor Sandpits – ROAR!

Ways over overcoming issues around sand play outside

Woozy Wasps

A few stinging comments about children, wasps and bees

Leave No Trace Fires

A sustainable way of having an outdoor fire

Sticks in Schools

A sticky subject about a versatile resource!

Dangerous Ideas in Education

the need for educators to be risk takers and rule breakers

Do you have a poisonous plant in your school garden?

The answer is likely to be “yes” and everyone is just fine

Being Naughty

What dynamic risk assessment is all about

Building Confidence on a Concrete Slope

Focusing on the little matters to develop personal safety.

Are Loose Parts Toys?

Or should I let the children in my setting play with tyres, crates and other open-ended items?

General Commentary

10 Tips for Visiting School Grounds and Outdoor Spaces

Practical guidance to save a wasted trip!

10 ideas if you can’t leave resources outside

Let’s not stop outdoor play!

Living in a box

Children being boxed up and in instead of being allowed out

Wearing fun thinking hats

Everyone is a teacher! Or should be…

Hat hair hampers outdoor learning

Dilemmas of wearing hats

A free market

Bushcraft and food for free

The Daffodil Principle

An Earth Day story

Floor displays

One nursery uses the floor as additional display space

Love Outdoor Play Campaign

A sticker campaign launched by the Geography Collective

Celebrating children and trees

A few reflective thoughts and photos

Relationships are all there are

Looking education within the context of relationships between people, places and activities

The Gift of Play

Is your school making this an unconditional right for your children?

I’m a parent, let my child OUTSIDE at school!

supporting your school to take learning and play outdoors

Where would you rather be?

A wonderful setting for a training event outdoors.


A hindrance or a help to learning?

Outdoor schemas – Help!

Your advice is needed

The Cowgate Community Garden Party

Ensuring dialogue and change with children being fully involved

An Unofficial Nature Play Space

The real play park around a play park

We are the Influencers

how we can all play a part in making change happen

Creating Ongoing Dialogue with Children

Thanks to a bear called ‘Fred the Ted’

An 80-year old Nature Diary

Would you be up for doing this as part of your teacher training?

Glamis Adventure Play Ground – Guerrilla Geographers at Heart

Thoughts about signs seen and what they mean.

Keeping Parents Informed about Outdoor Learning

Inverallochy’s informative newsletter

In the early years

The Scottish Early Years Framework

Obstacles on the path

Barriers to learning outdoors

Thinking, learning, playing

Aberdeen Early Years Conference May 09

If you go down to the woods today

Nature Nurture Project, Camphill Aberdeen

A Curriculum for Excellence Through Outdoor Learning

Scottish Government’s outdoor learning document

A mindstretching event

2010 Mindstretchers Conference with Richard Louv as keynote presenter

Red Squirrels

The need for looking after these native mammals


A Conversation about Scottish Education: A view from outside. Reflections on what matters in education

Education Scotland Outdoor Learning Resources

Brought to you by me! And the Creative STAR team

Progression through Place in Learning Outdoors

Making the most of different places and spaces for learning

School Grounds and Playspaces

The Kate Greenaway Nursery

A special place for special people. Wonderful natural outdoor space for little children

Grounds for a relationship

Funding school grounds developments

A place for procrastination

The benefits of not changing the school grounds

A well-kept secret

Join Grounds for Learning, the Scottish school grounds charity

Willow structures

Clare Revera’s guest post

Stones as play features

A look at stones for children’s play


Ideas for using tyres to improve play opportunities for all ages

Zoning the outside space

An example from Southmuir Nursery to give you some ideas

What would you do with this space?

Suggestions for a mossy patch of ground

Getting to Grips with the Grounds at Grantown

My first go at developing school grounds

Achnasheen Primary

Making the Changes and Learning from my Mistakes

A Window with a View for Babies

Advice wanted for an area of ground where babies can see activity

Inspiration and action to change an outdoor space

Black Horse Hill Infant School, West Kirby

A Celebration of Biodiversity

Introducing the Inveraray Primary School grounds

Wonderful Willow at The Coombes School

A willow museum and other activities based upon willow

Watch this space

the start of developing a tarmac area on zero budget

Original Playground Markings

Some very creative and open-ended examples from Fraserburgh North School

What Rusty said in Wales

Spot on advice from one of the world’s leading nature playscape designers

Crime Prevention in School Grounds

Reduce crime by design

Using local features in your playspace

Inspiration from North Uist to include community features in an outdoor space.

Inspiring walls

Beautiful stonework in the Lake District and school grounds

Scrapstore Playpods

and other free play systems

Wild about this Space

This is where you find me on Fridays

Adventure Aberdeen

An ugly patch gets a beautiful makeover on a budget!

A quick lick of paint

How to brighten up a school grounds with a bit of paint and artwork

A recycled sandpit kitchen

A one tonne sand pit at Gardenstown Playgroup now is an outdoor home corner

Swings and Things at Glamis Adventure Playground

Great examples of what swings can be about!

Permanen Shelters in School Grounds

A wide range of ideas beyond what you will normally find in a playground equipment catalogue.

Maisie’s Garden

A newly created outdoor space in an Aberdeen children’s centre.

Enter in Style at Highway Farm

The entrances to and within a school send a hidden message about the values of an establishment. What is your school entrance saying?

The Hobbit House at Highway Farm

The building of a Hobbit House using recycled materials and with the involvement of children

What Makes a Brilliant Mud Kitchen

The ultimate mud kitchen – more sophisticated than it looks at first glance.

Westpark – an Evolution not a Revolution

How Westpark School Nursery in Aberdeen has re-used, recycled, re-purposed stuff to make a bland space much more attractive.


Rain makes us fat

Research about vitamin D

Seeing the natural light

Research about myopia and being outside

Animal behaviour in schools

Why we need space and nature

Book Reviews

Outdoor Books in 2010 and Those in the Pipeline for 2011

Quick review of my favourites

Kids in the Garden

a book of planting and eating projects and recipes

Nature Kindergartens

By Claire Warden

Have you got Wild Weather?

Super new book by Fiona Danks and Jo Schofield full of activities for all different sorts of weather


Sesame Street and Jason Mraz


A year in 40 seconds

A lovely YouTube clip of a wood changing through the seasons

Persil White

Thought provoking YouTube advert

Outdoor Pre-schools in Norway

Documentary about nature kindergartens

Creative STAR blurb

Delicious news

The cloud in the RH column

Creative STAR on Facebook

Join us on this social networking site

Happy Blog Day

3 years of blogging

Please vote for taking children outdoors

The blog is shortlisted!

Courses this year and next

A little more info about the training offered by Juliet

Early Years Blogs

An outdoor thank you

The most recent Early Years Outdoors blog posts are below

The Sand Dog Sculpture – Update on Fake Claims

26 February 2016
Sand Dog

What would you create with a bag of sand?

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What Makes a Brilliant Mud Kitchen?

24 February 2016
Thumbnail image for What Makes a Brilliant Mud Kitchen?

A mud kitchen PhD thesis – no kidding

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Introducing Sammy the 1-metre Rope Snake

12 January 2016
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Every educator’s mathematical friend

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A Fantasy Nature Character for Scotland – Can You Help?

6 January 2016
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Happy New Year Everyone I’m opening 2016 with a request for help from any Scottish teacher, early years practitioner, support assistant or adult who works with children. Back in August 2015 there was a Skogsmulle Awareness Conference. This is the next step, building on the thoughts and opinions of the participants – to begin to […]

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Dunblane Nature Kindergarten – A transformation from traditional to nature-based practice

20 November 2015
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Fantastic example of positive impact of nature-based practice.

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Uffington White Horse – Inspiration for Chalk Figures

14 November 2015
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A visit to this chalkscape inspires a child

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Tree Identification Scavenger Hunt

1 November 2015
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A change from the norm… check out the size of one leaf!

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Love Locks and School Leaver Locks

7 October 2015
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A leaver’s legacy from a school visit to Paris

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10+ Ideas for Using Story Stones

12 September 2015
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A creative outdoor resource

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Let’s Get Writing Outside

12 August 2015
Writing Outside

Writing outside is becoming increasingly popular in many primary and secondary schools.

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Children in Wild Nature – A Practical Guide to Nature-Based Practice

4 August 2015
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Children in Wild Nature  is a practical guide to taking children beyond the walls of the traditional outdoor space and into local greenspace. The author is Niki Buchan, who blogs at Precious Childhood. She is a well-known and highly respected trainer who has been based in Australia since 2011 and currently works for Inspired EC […]

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Kickstarting a Whole School Approach to Gardening

30 June 2015
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Last week I had the privilege of visiting Riverbank Primary School in Aberdeen to be one of several judges of the trug gardening competition. This year, the school decided that it would be a great way to celebrate the outdoor spaces and raise awareness of the benefits of gardening.

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The Joy of a Slide

3 June 2015
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Slides really mattered to me as a child. When I visited a playground, testing out the slide was always par for the course. A good slide was sublime. A poor slide affected my perception of the whole play park.

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Re-using Paper – Origami Seed Packets

30 May 2015
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Recently I blogged about making seed packets from unwanted books. This is a brilliant concept in that it’s an informal approach to children continuing to interact with text in a way that is short, sweet and fun. When I posted this blog, Mark Paterson, the Curator of Cruickshank Botanic Garden, told me that he and […]

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Pallets & Pre-school Outdoor Play

20 May 2015
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My final training session in Australia was at Glendale Early Education Centre. The establishment had just opened after a 2-week closure owning to flooding. As the Chinese proverb states, “Rather light a candle than complain about the darkness,” the staff took the opportunity to further develop their outdoor space based upon discussions with, and the interests of, the […]

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DIY Clipboard Flower Press

14 May 2015
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I have never been a big fan of the commercial flower presses. They are fiddly to use, a fixed shape and usually too small at that. Normally I just press flowers between by inserting them between kitchen roll and sticking them inside a big heavy book. This is fine at home, but when out and […]

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Rio Tinto Naturescape

30 April 2015
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Whilst in Western Australia I had the privilege of meeting Alec Duncan, of Child’s Play Music. We met in one of Alec’s favourite places: Naturescape in Perth. In the words of the website, “…it is a place for children to connect with nature and learn to appreciate the unique Western Australian environment. It is a place to explore, […]

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Dry Creeks and Streams

25 April 2015
School Grounds Stones

Dry streams provide inspiration for developing an outdoor learning space.

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The Children’s Garden – Morton Aboretum

21 April 2015
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Being able to visit a range of playgrounds and outdoor spaces has been one of the side benefits of working in Australia in recent months. It has also reminded me of a long overdue need to blog about the Children’s Garden at the Morton Aboretum just outside Chicago. The description on the website is apt: […]

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Embedding Money Outdoors

23 March 2015
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One of my favourite fairy tales as a child was Dick Whittington. I was always fascinated by the idea of streets being paved with gold. Whilst in Adelaide, I discovered a similar concept. On the ground outside a cafe on Rundle Street, lots of coins had been embedded into the ground.

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Repurpose school books into seed packets

11 March 2015
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There are many books especially textbooks and non-fiction books which are simply no longer fit for purpose. Some charities, such as Books Abroad, will take unwanted educational texts, but their criteria needs to be checked and only specific books can be donated. Recently I met Bridgette Watts, who is an active member of the volunteer organisation Urban […]

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Where Water Meets Sand and Rock

9 March 2015
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At the Macquarie Lake Variety Playground, the water zone particularly interested me. It was not an especially big area. Yet, the attention to detail in the design really appealed to my love of places where different elements and materials cross the boundaries of the zones or designated areas.

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Design Ideas for Bike, Trike & Scooter Play

2 March 2015
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One of the key zones at the Lake Macquarie Variety Playground is the Circuit Zone where children can bring their small bikes, scooters and other wheeled toys. Children are free to ride around the whole playground yet this zone has sufficient appeal that there were lots of children playing here continuously. Most early years educators know the […]

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Alien Invasion

20 February 2015
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This blog post is written by Lesley McLaren who works behind the scenes at Creative STAR. Thanks Lesley! She also took all the photos 🙂 …. I was kindly given these little guys to have an experiment with, and who best to try them out than my son, ‘Little Man’. Being mirrored they can easily […]

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Early Years Books about Learning and Playing Outdoors

12 February 2015
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As the interest in learning and playing outdoors continues to grow both in the UK and internationally, an increasing number of books are being written about different aspects of this subject. In this blog post, I thought I would highlight several which I have enjoyed reading during the past year.

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The Hobbit House at Highway Farm

8 February 2015
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When I visited Highway Farm in October, the Hobbit House immediately grabbed my attention. It is a beautiful, bespoke structure. Naturally I had to find out the story behind its existence. At Highway Farm Activity Centre – where there is an out of school club and an outdoor nursery, children are active participants in decision-making […]

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Using Puppets Outdoors 10 Tips and More

22 January 2015
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A few weeks ago, I received an email from the Handmade Theatre Company telling me about their puppet show, Flying the Nest. I popped onto their website and discovered a video trailer for the production which left me inspired. Aside from the humour and costumes, have a look at the range of puppets, props and ideas […]

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The Douglas Fir Tree and the Mice

18 January 2015
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Today I was walking in a local woodland when I came across a magnificent Douglas Fir tree. These trees are not native to the UK but the West Coast of  North America, where they have been known to grow to over 85 metres high. The Douglas Fir, as it is commonly known, is named in honour […]

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Structures and Shelters at Highway Farm

1 January 2015
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One commonly expressed concern about outdoor nurseries lies around the need for shelter and protection from the elements. Highway Farm is on a windy hill and this concern has been mitigated in several ways. First, the children are dressed for being outside. Second, there is a camp fire. Third, there are several large indoor spaces […]

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Outdoor Snacks and Drinks

6 December 2014
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‘”Hot soup was a jolly good idea, it’s so very cold this morning but then it’s very early, the sun is only just coming up – look!” They finished their breakfast watching the blue water turn to dancing gold, even the rocks gleamed in the sun.‘ Enid Blyton – The Adventurous Four. With the winter […]

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10+ Ideas for Windy Days

29 November 2014
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Wind is any horizontal movement of air. It’s the result of differences in air pressure. Air likes to move from areas of high pressure to low pressure. This can be demonstrated with a balloon. Inside a blown-up balloon are lots of molecules – many more than outside the balloon so it is an area of […]

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25 November 2014
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Nine years ago I planted a holly tree in front of my house. It has grown slowly but steadily and now stands at about 2m tall. Last winter I was delighted to discover that it was a female tree. There were three berries on it. This did surprise me because there are no holly trees that […]

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Enter in Style at Highway Farm

4 November 2014
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Entrances matter. They provide the first indications of what a school or setting is like inside – or beyond the gate. They convey not just a physical message but also a hidden message about what the establishment values. At Highway Farm and Little Explorers Outdoor Pre-School, the entrances fascinated me. Because the place is highly partitioned, […]

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Highway Farm and Little Explorers Outdoor Pre-School

29 October 2014
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Do you ever visit a place and the moment you arrive, a tingle of excitement runs down your spine? This happened to me at Highway Farm. Every tree planted, every stake hammered into the ground and every feature created  is part of the never-ending story of how this remarkable setting has grown and evolved over the […]

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10 Outdoor Ways to Celebrate Books

25 October 2014
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Books are brilliant. They create worlds within our heads – places of power and possibilities. They feed our imagination and allow us to think “What if…?” As my friend, Dominic the Storyteller once told me, “Pictures tell a 1000 words, but stories create a 1000 pictures.” Book Week Scotland is 24-30 November and to give […]

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The Fairy Garden at Coombe Mill

22 October 2014
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This past week I have been staying in Cornwall at the wonderful Coombe Mill Family Farm as I was on a professional learning stint, visiting various organisations and meeting lots of different people. The Fairy Garden is one of many examples which demonstrate why this place is amazing and not your average holiday accommodation.

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50 Things to do at Coombe Mill Farm Before You are 4 and 3/4

19 October 2014
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When working in Cornwall, I decided to use Coombe Mill Farm as my base. Many of you will already be familiar with the award-winning blog which Fiona writes detailing the activities of her family and what happens on the farm throughout the year.  I really enjoyed my visit and wished my own son was a toddler as […]

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Autumn Memory Mobile

12 October 2014

Recently I was visiting the The Lost Gardens of Heligan. In the entrance, was the beautiful hanging decoration. Upon closer inspection, it contained a range of autumn finds:

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Vestige – The Mirror People

17 September 2014
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The Mirror People

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Play Stumps

14 September 2014
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Back in March, I was visiting Meethill School in Peterhead to do some twilight training. The nursery have been working hard to develop their outdoor space. One of my favourite features were the stumps in the photo above.

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