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Outdoor play in early years has many benefits, including developing social skills, connecting with the living environment and promoting physical wellbeing. But how do settings deliver these opportunities and embrace outdoor learning when space is at a premium? It's all about being clever with the space that you have got! Here are five activities that will allow you to embrace the outdoors in your setting without taking up all of your space...

1. Create a reading nook 

Increased pupil engagement, focus, and concentration are just some of the many benefits reading brings to children, so why not take it outdoors and create your own reading nook? Reading nooks are the perfect, cosy environments for reading and reflection, and they can be as large or as small as you like! Your reading nook can be as simple as a blanket on the grass, some outdoor cushions, or even a tree branch with colourful ribbons hung to it.  

Child in reading nook

What you'll need:
D79424 – Reading Nook

2. Take play trays outside 

A play tray is a staple for any early years space and taking them outdoors only widens the possibilities for more play tray fun! Play trays can be easily stored away and transported, meaning you won't have to reserve a permanent space outdoors for them to be part of your outdoor lessons. 

Adult and child using play tray

What you'll need:
D77238 – Tuff Tray Activity Table – Toddler 
D77239 – Tuff Tray Activity Table – Preschool

3. Engage in water play fun 

Children love playing with water, and it's a super versatile and readily available resource! Whether you add water to your play trays, bring out the magic spray bottles, or have a go at water painting, a twist on traditional painting, there's so much you can do when you're struggling for space. One water related activity we love in particular that's space optimised is water walls! When using water walls, children develop essential motor skills and practice problem solving skills as they try different ways of pouring water and watching it trickle down the tubes. Splish, splash, splosh! 

Children using water wall

What you'll need:
D45497 – Water Wall

4. Make a minibeast hotel 

Minibeast hotels are great for urban spaces, where the natural habitat may be limited, and for those short of space. They teach children about wildlife conservation and nature and offer shelter for insects such as bees, giving them a place to visit and stay to do the all important work of pollinating flowers—a win-win for all! 

Child playing

What you'll need:
D79429 – Bug Hotel With Planter Base

5. Seek out adjustable equipment

Climbing frames and other outdoor physical development equipment can sometimes be a nuisance when it comes to space saving. However, there are some pieces of equipment that can be reconfigured into different shapes depending on space and adjusted to accommodate different levels of risk and age ranges. Adjustable equipment is always a great option, as you can install it in a way that fits perfectly for your individual setting. 

Child on climbing set

What you'll need:
D59312 – Adventure Climbing Set 

This article has been taken from our latest early years magazine, Little Learners. For more inspirational early years content like this, you can subscribe to receive our magazine for FREE or find out more on our Little Learners homepage.

 
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Millhouse