ECE Resources

The importance of outdoor play in ECE

Regular and repeated access to outdoor play is hugely important for children’s development. This webinar (held on 13 June) discusses the research on the need for outdoor play with a particular focus on risky play and play in nature, as well as providing practical ideas and strategies for incorporating outdoor play into ECE settings.

We are joined by Associate Professor Mariana Brussoni from the University of British Columbia, Canada, who is a developmental psychologist and expert on child injury prevention and outdoor risky play, parent and caregiver perceptions of risk, and the design of outdoor environments, and Professor Susan Herrington, University of British Columbia, a specialist in landscape architecture and environmental design who has led the development of the Seven Cs guidelines for young children’s outdoor play spaces.

To help you navigate the webinar easily, there is a list of the key topics covered in the session below, including the time each was discussed. The key ideas discussed in this webinar are also shared in a short insight article.

Topics discussed in this webinar

Times shown in minutes and seconds from the start of the video

1.12The benefits of outdoor play for young children
2.42Nature play and why it is important
5.23Risky play and why it is important
8.45The role of the teacher in children’s outdoor play
10.07Successful outdoor play environments
11.44Encouraging positive attitudes to risky play
14.44Language to use with children during risky play
16.27Risky play for toddlers
17.25Outdoor play in wet weather 
19.47Promoting outdoor play with parents
22.58Play equipment and materials to offer children
27.10Designing outdoor play environments
35.34Conclusions and take-home messages

Questions for exploring the key ideas from this webinar

  • What do you remember as favourite play activities or places from your childhood? What do you think made these so special?
  • How might you offer the children in your care a similar range of memorable play experiences?
  • What opportunities do children in your setting have for risky play? Can you provide an example for each of the eight types of risky play?
  • In what ways could you increase the number of natural elements into your play space?

Further reading

Our guide to the research on the importance of outdoor play

Ideas for how to support outdoor play

Our resource on how to use loose parts in children’s play spaces

Websites recommended by Mariana and Susan: and

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