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Outdoor Play article

09 July 2018

Woodland Wednesday with Backyard Gang

Recently there has been a lot of buzz surrounding outdoor play, but what does it all mean and how is Woodland finding the perfect balance between the indoor and outdoor classroom?

When we think of our childhood, we remember fondly the freedom we had to explore dark caves, rough streams, crazy jungles, or perhaps even investigate the occasional scary monster! However, in a city where space is scarce, it has become harder to give our children that freedom to let imaginations run wild. At Woodland, we value the freedom to play and are continually looking for ways to, challenge children’s creativity, be it through regular scheduled free play, or more structured outdoor programmes such as ‘Woodland Wednesdays’, run at the Peak Pre-School in conjunction with outdoor specialists, Backyard Gang.

A child’s experience with the outdoors should complement the indoor classroom. With freedom to choose, children should be given opportunities to play with materials of a larger scale, supported within the different areas of the National Curriculum’s ‘Early Years Foundation Stage’ (EYFS) learning goals. Senior Lead Teacher Sarah Wilbor explains; “The outdoors is a great classroom which is particularly beneficial in promoting literacy with children that enjoy lots of movement.  Using materials such as sticks and mud helps to develop the physical skills needed for writing. The children also love the opportunity to paint on walls or write on floors using chalk!!” 

The outdoors also provides a dynamic, constantly changing environment with seasonal and daily variations to the weather delivering intrigue to a child’s learning. The sudden start of rain can brings new adventures and investigations, providing children with experiences to record the movement of water, observe different creepy crawlies or to have a moment where they can transform into Peppa Pig and splash in muddy puddles! The outdoors offers a rich sensory lesson where children can experience birds chirping, leaves crunching, the rustle of the wind, the smell of cut grass, or the cold touch of water. There are endless opportunities to engage the senses. 

Providing opportunities for children to explore trails, or the woods inspires and provides them with chance to look at the world around them and discover natural objects. Children engage and can create countless games where sticks can transform into their favourite character, ‘Stick Man’ or be created into little houses small enough for fairies to fit into, or big enough for a ‘Wild Thing’! These moments, so special within a child's life, supports their well-being and motivation to keep learning, building resilience. As Lead Teacher at the Peak I believe these woodland adventures will stay with them for years to come. From discovering a new and interesting corner filled with grasshoppers, to special excursions such as our November ‘Forest Clean-up’, we can see children’s confidence grows, as they learn, help the community and have fun all at the same time! 

With so many great experiences awaiting, it's no wonder children thrive when outdoors. To quote Albert Einstein, “Play is the highest form of research”. So why wait until tomorrow? Let's get exploring!

New Outdoor Playgroup at Woodland Mid-Levels

“The importance of outdoor play cannot be emphasized enough.  We should allow children exposure to playing in different elements - wrap them up warm and they are good to go!” Aisling McDonnell, Under 3’s Lead Teacher at Woodland Junior Academy.

By Renee Callebaut
Lead Teacher at The Peak Pre-School

At the Peak Pre-School, outdoor learning took on a different approach, joining forces with Backyard Gang to develop a whole outdoor classroom programme, called Woodland Wednesday. Every Wednesday our Peak children are exposed to a new environment, whether it be a beach cleanup, insect and plant investigation, or foraging for sticks and stones in the woods. 

To learn more about our school and curriculum please contact us at 2849 6192 or

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