The Wonderful World Outdoors

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Project summary:

This was a practical project of further developing the outdoor environment to promote challenge, risky play, independence, along with confidence in rich open-ended play.


As part of the Froebel in Early Childhood Practice course, we were to further develop an area within the setting that links to a core Froebelian experience. Observations showed that our current outdoor environment was not reaching its full potential, although the children enjoy daily access to the outdoors. We chose this area to develop as we felt the area needed more opportunities for challenge, risk taking, curiosity and nurture towards living things. To ensure this was embedded and sustainable, as a team we further developed our skills and knowledge on the benefits of outdoor play, so we can support the children within their outdoor play experiences. Froebel said, ‘To learn a thing in life and through doing is much more developing, cultivating and strengthening than to learn merely though the verbal communication of ideas’ (Froebel 1885:2).


During this project the nursery has faced lots of challenges such as COVID 19 and lockdown, however I wanted to continue to make our garden a more inviting and rich learning space. Learning about the importance of having an outdoor garden space, made me really start to think about how to make the space accessible for all children. A place where they are free to explore and use their imagination, as well as take risks and challenge themselves. Developing our knowledge as a staff team, of the importance of the outdoors, the reasons, and the benefits from the outdoors, was critical in this process to make the garden a rich learning space. The space had so much potential however as it was, it did not allow for the rich learning experiences we wanted to take place. As a team we had to work hard together to build confidence and realise that children’s experiences to learn and develop are enhanced by being able to experience nature first hand (My World Outdoors,2016.)  Through research and training, staff were able to see that our garden space should have engagement with nature, risk, adventure, curiosity, and investigation (Tovey, 2018.)

The biggest challenge was deciding what we wanted to add to the space so we had team discussions, as well as discussions with the children and the children draw pictures of the things they would like to see in the garden. Once we had both staff and children’s voices it was clear I had to think of realistic and affordable ways to implement these ideas. I took into consideration the materials we already had in the garden and began to use them first before sourcing material out with the setting. We started small by introducing a tyre swing and we continued to use the tyres within the garden to make a climbing wall. We then began to revamp the existing flower beds through donations from our parents and children. The children took great ownerships and were all excited to plant the flowers they had brought into nursery and to continue to look after them throughout the school year. We were lucky enough to get donations from our local garden centre and used these donations to start our own vegetable plot.

The role of the adult, is to learn and develop alongside children; they don’t need constant protection.

(Froebel, 1887)


During the implementation of these areas, it is clear it has had a large impact on both staff and children.  Staff training has played a huge part in developing confidence and knowledge of outdoor play and the benefits for children. Staff are allowing the children to manage their learning and take risks within their play, which supports Froebel’s theory as he says, “A  child who lacks experience will not know his capabilities and is more likely to encounter danger,” (Froebel in Lilley, 1967.)It is evident that the changes made are encouraging the children to explore the outdoors more as they are learning to manage risks, explore living things and how to look after them. Children’s observations and monthly floor book show that the children are engaging in rich learning opportunities.


Through this project of introducing this Froebelian Experience into the setting, it has been a massive learning curve for myself as a practitioner. Developing the garden space was a large project during a pandemic. Making sure staff had access to the correct information on Froebel’s Principles as well as supporting them, answering questions, and working partnerships. Myself and staff worked well together using ‘My World Outdoors’ and ‘Our Creative Journey,’ documents to promote outdoor play as it helped them take risks, experiment and have fun overcoming fear they may have had on risky play. Through this training, it has given both staff and myself the confidence to introduce more open-ended resources to the area as well as take advantage of the nature and natural resources already there. The children are enjoying the outdoor space and a lot of learning is taking place already. Myself and the team wish to further develop the garden space and introduce more experiences, such as, water play, woodwork and fire building. It was a tough few year for everyone however we as team have made so many positive changes within the garden space and have so many more ideas to take forward in the coming years. The team want to continue to provide the children with first-hand experiences with nature and continue to develop their creativity, problem solving, risk taking and inquiry skills to be successful and competent learners (Building the Ambition, 2014).

Research implications

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Practitioner enquiry

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Leadership learning

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Author and role

To be completed

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