Hilden Grange School

Outdoor Learning in the Early Years

Our Outdoor Learning area for the Early Years children (Nursery and Reception) is very popular and provides a wonderful resource for exploration and learning.  It is used every day, whatever the weather!

Early Years outdoor learning


The outdoor learning environment is a rich, dynamic and natural space for learning and development in children of all ages.  Its value as an essential learning resource has been recognised by many pieces of research, and more recently within the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS):

Being outdoors has a positive impact on children's sense of well-being and helps all aspects of children's development.

Outdoor environments offer children the freedom to explore, use their senses, and be physically active and exuberant and enable the development of skills that can’t be developed within the classroom. Our new outdoor learning area has been meticulously designed to maximise the opportunities for play, exploration, discovery and investigation with a variety of different materials and environments.  For example, contact with soil, sand, stones, mud and clay allows children to gig, mix, build and sculpt, while larger rocks and stones are perfect for climbing.  Plants can be grown and cared for in the garden areas.

A water area, complete with an interactive waterwall, provides endless learning opportunities as the children explore puddles, make streams, investigate the pumps, waterwheels and containers and construct boats, rafts and dams. 

The outdoor space also supports imaginative role play; part of the area has often been turned into a bakery, a tea room or a travel agency to name but a few examples!  Importantly, the outdoors can also provide opportunities for quiet contemplation and reflection either in solitude or with friends. Calm spaces that encourage children to be relaxed and thoughtful are important for wellbeing and for developing a sense of awe and wonder about the world.  The outdoor environment is also vital to support children to develop healthy and active lifestyles. The outdoors allows for active play and whole body movement which is less practical within the indoor environment.