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Hello everyone,


Just wondering if anyone is able to share any of their outdoor play ideas. We are currently trying to develop our Foundation outdoor play area and our year 1 and 2 outdoor play area.


At present they do not plan for outdoor play in the Foundation outdoor area and they do not operate an open door policy because they do not have any sheltered areas attatched to the classrooms if the weather was not good.


The foundation outdoor area just has a lovely expensive climbing frame and a small wendy house with loads of concrete and grass areas and a couple of bushes. It is a very large area and nothing else has been added.


The Year 1 and 2 outdoor area is also very large and a third of it is concrete surrounded by a little grass, and lots of bushes. They also have a small digging area filled with bark.


We are trying to expand and improve the outdoor environment as Ofsted have requested this. I am just finishing making two musical washing lines that will be fixed in permanantly to the ground and I have just completed putting together some outdoor play weather boxes!


Would anyone like to share there ideas of how their outdoor area is laid out and used, I would welcome any ideas, suggestions, photos, website links, companies you have used and also any templates of plans. I definately think we need to include the outdoor play in our planning to make it effective.


I look forward to hearing your ideas if you are able to help me on my large project.


Thank you

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Our outdoor area consists of different areas:

A very large sandpit dug into the grounds

Large gardening area

A musical area (wind chimes, instruments, dustbin lids etc)

Painting area

Mark making area

Play house on Astro turfed area with space for activities, construction toys etc

Large hill (Not great as the grass has never really taken on the hill so everytime someone goes up the grass comes down!)

Water area

Paths for bikes etc


We are planning on making a making willow den and would be interested to see others ideas on outdoor areas as we are looking for ways to develop ours further. The thing we are lacking is storage - my advice get as much storage as possible - having to drag things in and out the classroom every day is a real pain! Especially if its been raining.

Sounds like you have lots of concrete - how about games being painted on it? Hopscotch, snakes and ladders etc? or a road?

Hope this helps

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If your group can afford it try the Learning through Landscapes website on www.ltl.org.uk.


I think you can see a few ideas free but it is well worth the annual subscription of about £50.00. For this you get access to a wonderfull site and a folder, regular newsletters and Curriculum linked ideas.


Try a look it has inspired me so much and the setting has really benefitted





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We havent got a great deal of 'equipment' as such as there is never any money but we have managed to improve it and use it a great deal more now put ting some things together quite inexpensively.


One of the best assets I have found is the ' outdoor boxes' that you can theme and put together as they are easy to pick up and place outside.

We have a few now - outdoor mark making box, outdoor story box, maths box, journeys box.


I put a plea out to parents and managed to get hold of a couple of the plastic sand trays with lids and I use those so we can provide sand and water. A parent sent us a fabulous ELC slide that was redundant and little tykes car.


I got hold of some large planters and planted lavender and rosemary etc along the outside wall and left a couple free to plant up with sunflowers, beans, potatoes etc. Our local poundshop had some cheap and colourful wind socks and wind chimes and I put them up too. My Teaching Assistant always does us a fab hanging basket with the children with her left over plants which we put at a lower level.


Playground markings are good if you can get them done. We have an alphabet snake, naughts and crosses, road markings, number line and hop scotch. I managed to get some targets put up on the wall too.



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I also would recommend Learning through Landscapes- it is an excellent resource. We are developing our outdoor space at the moment and at the moment have a balancing area, large sand pit with lid that becomes a 'stage', planters for herbs/ veg and flowers a non-specific play 'house', a minibeast area, an area in which the grass grows long in the summer( if we manage to stop the contracters from mowing it in time!).we also have a figure of 8 'road'

We are developing play boxes.

Our most popular area is the digging pit which the children absolutely love. We provide wellies and waterproof trousers to help with some of the mess. lately the children have mixed water in it to make 'cement'- messy but great fun!

We plan to add a 'hill', signposts, bird hide, music area ........... so many ideas!

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Not sure why a sheltered area is needed to opperate an open door policy. If children have suitable clothing and the door is open for them to come inside if the weather is too extreme for even them!

Our outdoor area consists of a grassy area including a small hill and a long slope. We have a large sunken sandpit and a number of the springy toys plus a wigwan and a slide and a wild area with wildlife homes bird table feeders and nesting boxes.(hope to get a nesting box cam) The paved area has a digging pit flower tubs and raised beds for veg. I plan to buy a potato barrel and strawberry tub (at children's request) Last year we planted a pear tree and an apple tree (dwarf self pollenating) We have 3 tatty sheds which we hope to replace to store trikes rockers balls etc. we have a huge white board attached to one wall art easels and a water tray guttering and pipes for water investigation. We use a large tent for stories etc.


We keep two large tubs of wellies next to the door for the children to use if they need them.

Edited by MARl0N
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I would recommend getting a water butt too - really good not just for recycling water but for giving the chilren independence. Ours love to use it to fill their buckets when painting with water.

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Thank you all so much for your ideas this is great, We are going to have a brainstorming session and are now waiting to hear how much money we are allowed to spend. I'm sure all your ideas will be very useful to my team.

The websites look great and worth joining.

Thank you so much for your help.


Enjoy your half term.

Sharon :o

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  • 2 weeks later...

We too are TRYING to develop outside play. It's quite a small area with half grass, half tarmac. We are unable to leave anything out (has to go in the shed at end of session).

Not allowed to dig, can't use tubs - unless you want them strewn all over the place when you arrive in the morning! Nothing can be left out - this includes the bird feeder - EVERYTHING! has to be hidden from the little darlings that plague the area at night. There is limited storage space, we have to set up every morning and pack away after each session, any ideas would be very welcome!

If we were in a purpose built building and grounds secure, we would have wooden sandpits, wooden structures, slides, Hanging things everywhere, sensory garden - and I dream on!! but alas we don't and are constantly reminded of this at our cluster meetings (we have an excellence centre nearby - and it's WONDERFUL!), we try to be imaginative and use the area but it's not always appealing, especially when reminded that we really need to keep off the grass as it's wearing a bit thin!

Would be interested to find out from other users in rented premises how you get on.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not moaning about the owners really, they try their best to accommodate us, but we keep expanding and taking over their space! I can see their argument. Why should they have to look at all our creations hanging from the fences, chalk on the floor etc. (we make sure it's cleaned up for the weekend, but through the week when they hold other events, they can't really see the importance of imaginative play!

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We plan for all six areas outside as well as inside.

CLL -We have a white board and a black board outside.

We also have signs and number/ sorting games which velcro on to posts.

We have a reading tent in the warmer weather.

MD - Numbers on the bikes - hoping to get painted parking bays for them to match with. Picnic sets for matching and counting. Block play. Shop / petril pump, ice cream kiosk. ticket office, shop. Water play

KUW We also have activity/science boxes on a large trolley.

we have a small digging area and a pond/ wildlife area. Flower tubs.

PD - climbing frame, bats and balls, bikes and buggies etc.

PSE - all the usual that apply here. We water the plants in the summer.

CREATIVE Musical instruments, imaginative play, role play painting and other forms of graphics.

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We work in a very similar way to Mimi.

We just became a Foundation Stage Unit in September so are still in the process of resourcing the area


At present we have a large white board and markers and smaller blackboard / chalk and chunky floor chalks

We also use water and paint and brushes for mark making and learning letter formation on a big scale

Our tent has been outside (in all weathers) and finally collapsed under the weight of the last fall of snow. This is/was used for stories imaginative play and independent writing Oh and beat baby lived there :)


for numeracy we have a number trail -large floor games- skittles-washinglines - shape trails - water tray and sand pit - large construction - sorting - picnic etc



wild area - bird table - bird boxes - digging pit - this year we are starting our own raised veg bed and mini green house also the children have requested strawberry plants- we also have an allotment and a large school field



the usual bikes scooters bats balls slides etc plus a trampoline stilts walking the plank



the usual role play and have spent the past week organising pipes pots and pans etc to hang from the trees to make a music area







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Lovely photos Marion. The children look really involved in all they're doing. How long has your white board been up? I've got a spare board but have been a bit worried about putting it outside as we have no cover.



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Lovely photos Marion.  The children look really involved in all they're doing.  How long has your white board been up?  I've got a spare board but have been a bit worried about putting it outside as we have no cover.





The board came out of a spare classroom and has been outside now for about a year an still seems fine. Thw whiteboard from my classroom was put outside but not fixed to the wall right away and was damaged by water getting to the back

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Lovely photos Marion - please tell us about Beat Baby.

How big is your foundation unit and how many staff do you have.




Beat Baby is a small shy furry creature who came from a Ros Bayley course he curls up tight and only comes out when the children talk to him quietly and take turns. Helping Young Children with Steady Beat

Ros Bayley, Lynn Broadbent



Our FSU came about in September by combining the reception and nursery, previously we were considered an early years unit but decided to become fully integrated. Currently there are 27 reception aged children and 26 nursery morning / afternoon( different nursery children each session ) There are 2 teachers and 2 NNEBs. We have 2 interconnecting rooms linked by a corridor and a messy area, kitchen area (staff only access) and a secure outdoor area (free access) plus a larger outdoor area only accessible with adult supervision.

Edited by MARl0N
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