Recovering Play – Mission Explore!

Mission Explore!

Outdoor Exploration

What is it and why is it important?

To quote Realising the Ambition p56 ‘Even the most uninspiring outdoor spaces can be transformed into a rich play environment creatively and inexpensively through the provision of loose parts play.  Instead of focusing on recreating indoor play areas outdoors, reflect upon the unique opportunities outdoor play affords for big movement and dynamic play. For instance, consider how fresh air, natural materials, and areas for digging, growing and splashing in puddles can contribute to a child’s learning and development in ways that could never be achieved indoors. Children flourish when playing outdoors in all weathers. Feeling sun, wind, rain, snow and ice first-hand is important as it connects us as human beings to the planet we live on. Being in nature stimulates the senses and nurtures a sense of wonder and awe at the processes of life. Outdoor environments can offer different surfaces, different levels, lots of natural features to explore, trees to climb, and bushes and shrubs to hide and build dens in’.

How to bring it back.

Ensure you provide, wherever possible, free flow between indoors and outdoors on a daily basis.  Think about how children access their outdoor wear, do they need to walk through the nursery or is it accessible? Consider having a snack station set up so children do not need to come inside just to have a snack. 

Sharing with home

Remind families that you will be outdoors daily and ask them to ensure their wee one is dressed appropriately for whatever type of weather there is. Explain to families why you go outdoors and the benefits of being there. Encourage them to spend time outdoors with their children too.

This is one of a weekly series of posts highlighting different spaces, experiences and interactions that practitioners have told us are not all easy to get back after the pandemic restrictions.

It’s all about playing, talking, and having fun together – so we hope they are useful.  If there are any ideas you’d like us to highlight, just get in touch with your link EYESO.

For ideas about family engagement, you will find a “home” version of this post on