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Outdoor area - books and other inspiration?


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Hi all,

I am on, as I know many others are, on the quest to make our outdoor area really 'work' for our children and our setting.

We have a great outdoor area in term of space - half hard playground, half grasses area. We have built up a range of resources and areas - crates, water channels with frames, water tray with larger water play resources - tubes, pipes, boats etc, smallish sandpit (desperately want a bigger one!) with resources, digging area, planting and growing area, wildlife area, playhouse and sensory garden, outdoor kitchen (in the process of making it into a sand and natural kitchen), outdoor tables and benches, mark-making resources in a mini greenhouse, large animals and dinosaurs, people, plastic food (at the moment anyway??), explorer trolley, den-making frame with materials and pegs, wheeled vehicles and road markings, tyres, whiteboard and blackboard, paper clips for large rolls of paper, p.e. trolley with a variety of resources, basketball bet, 'Asco' balancing kit, foam bricks and large wooden bricks. So writing it all down, it seems like a lot. Always have other things that I want to add as on-going resources e.g. music area and things that need replacing (e.g. large pegs seem to have a limited life!)

However, I feel that I sometimes lack inspiration with enhancements especially at this time of year. I think we do a good job outside at sustained shared thinking and seeing the 'teachable moment' and extending what they are doing but it's just thinking of new or different activities for children to be involved in that aren't part of the on-going provision. We do our focused activities outdoors if it is the best place to do them e.g. this week I'm going outdoors to do large-scale mark-making. Everything I think seems to cost money. I'm not sure whether I'm considering it in the wrong way/trying too hard/not trying hard enough?

I have one of Helen Bilton's outdoor play (can't remember it's name but it helps with planning and designing your outdoor area with action plans etc) great book - has anyone got any other books that have inspired them/reassured them/refocused their thinking?


Green Hippo x

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I think your areas sound great.One thing we added last summer was a mud kitchen after we were inspired by abc.does

Our mud area is a large planter full of soil which the children can access at all times.We bought pound shop tin resources which have lasted well.We have a list of items like used birthday candles, paper cases , spoons, plates etc which we ask parents to donate if they have them.

we have two washing up bowls out at all times during the session. One is for hand washing, complete with soap and towels and the other is washing up water. The children are encouraged to do their own washing up when they have finished playing with the kitchen.

Its been really successful and when we last had an open afternoon it was fantastic when the parents were saying to us that all they remember wanting to do as a child was to make mud pies!!

Even children who you think are not usual candidates for getting messy just cant resist mixing mud and water together :P

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