From informal play to outdoor nurseries and taking lessons outside, there are lots of ways that parks, greenspaces, streets and even rooftops, can be used for play and learning.

Download: Outdoor play and learning resource sheet

Featured Projects

On the Roof – St Modan’s High School

When St Modan’s High School was rebuilt a rooftop garden was built into the original design with a greenhouse, pond, raised beds, water, electricity, a safe perimeter and lovely views.

They have now raised funds to transform the garden space - not only will it serve as a garden, outdoor classroom, and host a pupil run outdoor enterprise café; pupils will actively gain skills in the refurbishment.

Read more about the project

Why take play and learning outside?

Let the words and images captured in these three videos by the Thrive Outdoors team at Inspiring Scotland speak for themselves. They illustrate the benefits and sheer joy of taking play and learning outside – whatever our age.

From a Child's perspective:

From a Practitioner’s perspective:

From a Parent’s perspective:

Inspiring Ideas

We've been inspired by lots of play and learning projects we've heard about across Scotland during 2020, including:

Wild Fife Babies and Bairns

Many traditional parent and toddler groups have been locked out of their venues so Kiri Stone, a Countryside Ranger on maternity leave, started to organise meetups to introduce babies and parents, in fun ways, to the natural environment; sparking natural curiosity, love and care for nature. The benefits from small, relaxed outdoor get-together's for parents and babies are endless, from better sleep, improved development to soothing an anxious little one.  

The group has been especially popular due to Covid-19, and as the world changes, it makes sense to continue spending more time outdoors and immersing our babies in wildlife.

Find out more

The Shieling Project Outreach

The Shieling Project has started to do more outreach work as a response to Covid-19. With schools and groups reluctant to travel, as well as the risks of assembling groups coming from different bubbles, staff decided to go to them!

The project can work with groups that are already in a bubble e.g. classes. Using mobile tipis to provide shelter, they can make the best of the outdoors giving everyone space to socially distance but still learn and work as group. They are also registering as an SQA approved centre to deliver a mix of online and site-based learning. 

Find out more

Weekend Warriors – playscheme in Rouken Glen Park

Despite Covid-19, Cosgrove Care worked hard to continue their playscheme work for children with learning disabilities, and their families, by taking their playscheme outdoors to space used in partnership with Young Enterprise Scotland, and leased from East Renfrewshire Council at Rouken Glen Park.

The heated greenhouse, safe outdoor space and canopied shelter have been just right for these times, to allow a safe space for the youngsters to express themselves and take a lead in activities.

The Weekend Warriors will play on outside, even once Covid-19 is vanquished! 

Find out more

Shortlees Primary School - whole school learning outdoors

The school approached the Learning Outdoors Support Team (LOST), working in partnership within East Ayrshire Council’s Education Service, to find out how they could make the most of their outdoor spaces for learning. LOST are a team of specialist teachers and practitioners who support and challenge schools to engage in high quality outdoor learning experiences. 

They worked together on a School Grounds Survey to identify several spaces with different features which would be suited for a variety of lessons and activities. Training was undertaken by the teachers and a range of outdoor learning resources accessed from LOST.

Find out more

Milton Community Garden and Food Hub

Youth gardeners distributed 3125 activity packs to local families in lieu of gardening sessions, home gardening activities for people struggling with mental health were provided and 1800 food parcels were delivered in the Milton Area as well Springburn and Royston. Weekly Fruit and Veg Barras outside Milton Community Gardens throughout Lockdown included produce from the garden.

Gardening, Youth Gardening Sessions and Community Meals were gradually reintroduced as well as two local Nurseries (one holding Forest School sessions) have been utilising the Children’s Garden for outdoor play since September.

All this work was carried out in partnership with many organisations and the help of amazing volunteers.

Find out more 

Remember to always check the most recent Scottish Government guidance and advice when planning activities and events outside.

Thanks to The National Lottery Heritage Fund for supporting work on Better outside - using our spaces more