Early Childhood Experiences: Outdoor Play

Outdoor play is all about fresh air and healthy bodies. Playing outdoors regardless of the season, children discover nature’s glory while developing their motor skills.

Whenever the weather is nice and warm, you can take your child’s usual activities out in the sun (or in a shady spot). Even if the weather is gloomy, there still are lots of play activities you can try outdoors with your child.

In a nutshell, just about everything inside can be turned into fun outside!

The outdoors can be the perfect location for fun activities like:

  • Paint: you can hang a piece paper on your backyard fence and encourage your child to let their creative energies flow
  • Blow bubbles
  • Make prints
  • Draw on the footpath with chalk
  • Spread a blanket and listen to stories with the neighbourhood’s humming in the background
  • Build castles with cardboard boxes
  • Sing loudly and parade with drums

Outdoors, the sky’s the limit.

Make the best out of your surroundings

Outdoor play can also challenge your children to explore, make friends and test their physical abilities. Playgrounds are a great location for outdoor play. However, they should be safe and accessible.

Are you looking forward to a day spent in the open? Don’t solely rely on your typical playground equipment. Get creative!


The outdoors offer endless possibilities for pretend play and movement explorations. Here are some other awesome ideas you can try with your child:

  • Plant a garden
  • Create a sandbox
  • Dig in the dirt and make mud

Encourage, teach, join

The outdoors can be the perfect environment to teach your child how to share. It is also a great opportunity for you to encourage them to practice something they have just learned.

Playing outdoors can be as educational as it is fun.

Parents, here are a few tips on how to use nature play as an educational tool:

Supervise your children while they play
Encourage and teach your children to extend their play
Find intriguing new things to explore, such as a spider web or planes flying overhead
Encourage your child to ask exploratory questions like, “Where could the planes be going?”
Play games that build friendships as well as motor skills, like a fun treasure hunt
Document changes in the neighbourhood by visiting buildings or roads under construction. Encourage your child to verbalise their observations, like, “Do you see how everyone helps carry things in and out?”
Try to go outdoors every day, even on those off-putting chilly days. Put on something warm and cosy. There’s no good reason why a few clouds should stop your explorations!

Have you got all the supplies you need?
Here are some suggestions that are guaranteed to turn your outdoor play into a blast:

  • Art supplies: large pieces of paper, paint, easels, pavement chalk
  • Outdoor toys: balls, hoops
  • Playground equipment to match your child’s skills: climbers, swings, obstacle courses, slides
  • Recycled items: cardboard boxes, old tyres (with holes drilled to drain water), smooth boards, dress-up props
  • Water play supplies: buckets, bubbles, sand, hoses

Advice: Close adult supervision is required to ensure the safety of young children. Projects with small parts and scissors with metal blades are for children aged 4 years and older.

With so many great ideas you can try at your local playgroup or in your backyard, all you need to do is get ready for some fun.

If you haven’t joined a playgroup yet, this is the perfect time to do it. Find a Playgroup near you now.

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Playgroup NSW leads play-based programs and services for NSW families with children birth to school age, offering development, shared experiences, and family support, that results in active citizens and inclusive communities.