Tips and Guides

Great Outdoor Play Ideas for Early Years

sand wall sensory playground equipment

Outdoor play equipment is essential in encouraging the development of social skills, imagination and physical development from an early age. Not only this, but they provide children with infinite possibilities for their games, allowing for their imaginations to truly run wild!

Ultimately, creating a varied environment is crucial in playing with our children’s’ senses and teaching them to process, organise and filter sensory input and respond to this accordingly. Through being given the chance to play and learn freely, through a varied sensory playground environment, children are afforded the choice to develop motor skills and learn social skills equally in a safe and exciting environment.

Ultimately, having a choice in sensory best facilitates a child’s understanding of how to manage their emotional responses and become accustomed to the functionality of their bodies. To help capitalise on these benefits, we have put together some games ideas to help your children develop in the best way possible with their outdoor play equipment.

1. Create Participation Games 

Active participation is the best way for children to develop their senses. Outdoor play equipment (such as climbing frames) will allow them to move, climb, run and jump through the world around them, learning to process sensory input at the same time.

Outdoor play improvement does not only boost children’s mental well being, but it also brings huge benefits for their passion for learning and cognitive development. Outdoor sensory playground equipment comes in varying textures, with chutes and passages for children to explore during their time away from learning.

Think about how you can utilise the equipment around you to create a race that involves a few (light) climbing activities, runs and relay-type tasks. Fetching flags or items from one area to another helps them develop their spatial awareness and encourages them to actively think about the route they must take in order to complete the run. Remember playing ‘tag’? Something as simple as this with the play area as a ‘safe zone’ is always fun!

2. Role Play Games 

Roleplay is a key part of every child’s development. Dens and shelters may be transformed into a shop, house or nursery, or maybe even a quiet place to chill out and relax. Through crafting a varied environment we can best facilitate a child’s ability to role-play their own games and situations.

Outdoor play equipment facilitates a whole host of role-play games which in turn can be used to develop children’s senses, mental ability and ultimately further their psychological development. There are various challenging elements and puzzles incorporated into Red Monkey Play’s outdoor playground equipment to keep those young minds constantly developing and learning.

The importance of choice and possibility is something which we understand to be vital in child development. Through a varied sensory playground environment, children are afforded the choice to develop motor skills and learn social skills equally in a safe and exciting environment.

Think about creating ‘shops’ within each areas of the play area, creating roads and rules for getting ‘deliveries’ from one place to another. This will help them understand basic constructs of a game and hopefully they’ll pull together to keep the rest of the players adhering to the ‘rules’.

3. Playing Adults

Whilst life as an adult may seem boring to us that live it every day, it feels like an area of wonder and mystery to young children. Children make sense of the world in which they live by acting out situations before they happen and by copying what they see around them.

The Explorer House gives a great chance to facilitate this domestic role play. This outdoor playground equipment resembles something straight from The Shire and is a great example of the wonderful and enchanting environments on offer. It is fully equipped with a grass roof and a viewing panel, giving children the chance to act out a whole host of games and scenarios.

From playing ‘mum and dad’ with a designated ‘child’, to more group-based activities like emulating the school itself and having a ‘teacher’ give a lesson on their favourite things.

4. Themed Playground Game Ideas

Whilst some outdoor playground equipment will be more versatile in its ability to serve as a variety of things – a family home, castle or supermarket – some provide a clear and obvious function. It is important to sometimes give children clear and obvious play equipment, as naturally, some imaginations develop quicker than others when it comes to playtime. Themed play equipment will also ensure that no children feel left out by not understanding the games that are going on. 

The Interactive Pirate Ship is an example of this inclusive playground equipment. It is full of engaging activities including tactile sensory panels, climbing net and moving the steering wheel, meaning there is a part to play for all children the role-play games. The bespoke pirate ship is also wheelchair accessible and suitable for children with special education needs.

What to play on a pirate ship? Pirates of course! There are also a number of other options you can create that involve staying out of the ‘water’ – if you’re willing to be the shark of course! Encourage children to choose themselves the best time to get to ‘dry land’ – an area off the pirate ship you define. Watch out for the shark! The last one on the ship gets to be the shark next time.

5. An Introduction to Mother Nature

Outdoor playground equipment gives children a great chance to learn about different elements and develop a love for mother nature which could last for a lifetime. Such learning can also be an early introduction to academic subjects and future hobbies.

For example, playing with sensory equipment and and water play can be an early introduction to science and maths. Children will learn through experience that water is fluid and sand is comprised of solid, yet both can be measured to fit into different sized containers. Interactive and informative measuring games such as this can be facilitated with the likes of the Sand Wall and the Water Area. 

Our Water Areas are completely customisable. The mesh and wood can be interchangeable with exciting interactive chutes and waterways. You can create a bespoke and engaging water zone by connecting water pulley systems and tactile discovery tables, allowing your children to play a whole host of water-based games.

On sunny days, why not choose water pistols to amplify their experience. Often a cause for argument or upset, so be prepared to help them deal with confrontation and frustration! There are other ways to explore nature too for quieter kids who would rather be creative – use grass, flower petals and natural sources to allow them to ‘paint’ while sitting amidst the action.

Bespoke Play With Red Monkey

Red Monkey Play have been capturing the imagination and attention of school children for over 20 years – whilst always maintaining the use of safe and environmentally friendly playground equipment.

We work with schools and nurseries across the UK to create stunning bespoke playgrounds with our playground design service – and we’d love to work with you too. Discover more and explore our wide range of sensory playground equipment.

With our bespoke service, we would love to customise our products to suit your exact needs. Get in touch today to find out how we can restore the fun into your playground and help your children develop in the process. 

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