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The Wonders of Outdoor Play for Early Years

Posted by Melissa Quinney on Dec 1, 2023 10:10:07 AM

With modern day life becoming increasingly sedentary, it runs the risk of today’s early years children being less active at home. Schools and nurseries have the power to keep our early years children happy and healthy by implementing plenty of outdoor play. The NHS recommendation is that the early years should spend 3 hours a day doing physical activities, including active and outdoor play. So, let’s bring the EYFS outdoors!

Cabins For Schools - Cutnall Green C of E Primary School -2x14m2, Solar Pipe & BBQ_69-1

Forest School Cabin 

The EYFS Framework states that: ‘Physical activity is vital in children's all-round development, enabling them to pursue happy, healthy lives. By creating games and providing opportunities for play both indoors and outdoors, adults can support children to develop their core strength , stability, balance, spatial awareness, coordination and agility.’


So… what are the all-important benefits of early years outdoor play?


Early Years Physical Health


Outdoor play offers incredible benefits to early years children’s physical health. Getting outside of the classroom and the main school building offers the early years much more space to move around and develop their fine motor skills. They have the room to play games like tag, typically suiting the older end of the early years, ages 4-5. The running and chasing elements of tag are great for early years children to build their speed, endurance, agility and stamina. Games like tag are also great for developing certain social skills, like communication and conflict resolution. It’s a good way of teaching the early years about rules as well as coordination and helps to strengthen their cognitive abilities. 


So many other outdoor early years games/activities are great for children’s physical health, such as hopscotch, skipping and kerbside. Anything which involves jumping and running helps to develop their bone density, targets their larger muscle groups and strengthens their stability. This type of play can be limited by the restraints of spacing in school halls, so it is important to give children time outside to be free, move their bodies and truly reap the health benefits of active outdoor play. Fresh air is another huge factor of outdoor play for early years. Getting outside and breathing fresh air supports lung and heart health, reduces stress and improves cognitive functioning. Furthermore, regular exercise is paramount for the early years. By exercising through outdoor play, it prevents a multitude of health issues, such as obesity, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, the list goes on!

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Cabins For Schools - Cutnall Green C of E Primary School -2x14m2, Solar Pipe & BBQ_5

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Early Years Wellbeing

Importantly, playing outdoors supports children's mental health and emotional wellbeing as well as strengthening their soft skills. 

Being outdoors increases EYFS self-confidence and independence. They learn critical thinking and risk management skills as well as gaining an awareness of boundaries and limits in their play and exploration.  Being outdoors is also brilliant for developing children's social skills. The increased space to move around provides more opportunities for larger group activities and games, where children can practice team-working and effective communication, also encouraging children to build and strengthen friendships. But above all, outdoor play is fun, and having fun is a massive contributing factor to a child's mental health. 


How a Cabins for Schools log cabin supports EYFS Outdoor Play
  • Having a log cabin allows EYFS children to play outside during all weathers! If it's raining, educators can take their early years children out into the cabin and enjoy the benefits of outdoor learning away from the classroom or school hall. Get outside, get fresh air and stay sheltered! Equally, having a log cabin provides shade in the summer months when the playground might be too hot for the early years. Outdoor play shouldn't be compromised for the British weather!

  • Our log cabins have great sensory potential which is important for EYFS development. With a Cabins for Schools log cabin, children will be able to smell the spruce aromas from the wood, listen to the sounds of birds, and see the natural sunlight flood inside the cabin through the solar pipe! You can add so many other sensory elements too, either by utilising the cabin's natural surroundings such as the leaves and the wind, or by bringing in sensory resources to use inside. In fact, our log cabins can be built with optional extensions which are perfect for storing resources between play sessions. 

  • Our cabins help to stimulate imagination and curiosity! They are huge thinking and talking points for the early years. They provide an experience which children wouldn't typically receive at home, providing new and unusual opportunities to learn, discover, interact and imagine - all essential aspects of growth and development for EYFS children.

  • Having a log cabin to support early years children opens up a wide array of opportunities and increases your school/nurseries' capacity for events and activities. We have even heard back from several schools who have used their Cabins for Schools log cabins as Santa's Grottos for their EYFS pupils during the festive season! 
Cabins For Schools - 10m solar - Shotton Hall Primary - Adam & Reece_02

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EYFS Outdoor Play Ideas

  • Jumping in puddles
  • Chalk drawings
  • Ribbon dancing
  • Assault course
  • Cloud-watching 
  • Sensory walks
  • Collect leaves
  • Treasure hunt 
  • Parachute games
  • Outdoor role-play 
  • Listen to the sounds of nature/aeroplanes, emergency vehicles, etc.
  • Wind-chimes, old CDS, etc. 

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Check out our case study on The Happy Homestead Eco Nursery's Forest School Cabin 


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Topics: schools, outdoorlearning, forestschools, cabins for schools, Multi-Function Space For Schools, Log Cabin, Inclusive Spaces, library