Outdoor Play Equipment for the EYFS Framework

Outdoor Play Equipment for the EYFS Framework

According to the UK Government, the seven areas of learning in the EYFS framework should mostly be delivered through games and play. This makes the playground not just somewhere children have fun, but also an arena in which learning can take place. To make this possible, it is important to choose outdoor play equipment that facilitates EYFS learning. Here we look at the seven areas of EYFS and show how play equipment can be successfully used.

Communication and language

With the right equipment, the playground provides plenty of opportunities for children to develop their communication and language skills. A simple outdoor stage, play towers and shop kiosks, for example, encourage children to participate in role play, either during free play or organised activities. Playground markings for interactive games are also helpful because activities such as football or hopscotch require children to communicate with each other in order to take part.


Literacy, which is naturally related to communication and language, can also be developed in an outdoor setting. Creating a storytelling circle, complete with a storytelling chair and mushroom-design seating is a great way to encourage listening to stories and to inspire children to tell their own.

Additionally, there is a range of specialist literacy playground markings for games involving letters and phonic sounds, as well as outdoor whiteboards and chalkboards to encourage mark making.


The playground provides unlimited opportunities for children to develop numeracy skills, including learning to recognise numbers, count forwards and backwards and even basic adding and subtraction. There is a wide range of maths-based playground markings that display numbers and encourage children to count as they play.

At the same time, there is equipment that can help develop other maths skills, even though the children wouldn’t recognise these as maths, for example, battleships boards and soma cubes.

Expressive arts and design

Children love expressing themselves artistically and there are numerous ways you can use playground equipment to encourage and facilitate this. Outdoor stages and roleplay equipment can motivate children to perform made up plays; the wide range of whiteboards, chalkboards and painting stations provide endless opportunities to create art, and the selection of fun, outdoor percussion instruments, that everyone can play, motivate children to experiment with sound, patterns and beats.

Physical development

Young children are naturally full of energy so it takes little to get them moving around. However, to develop strength and stamina, as well as balance, agility and coordination, it’s helpful to have the right equipment. One ideal solution is to install EYFS Trim Trails equipment. With balance beams, log striders, climbing nets, tunnels, jungle bars and rope traverses to choose from, it’s easy to create a fun but challenging obstacle course.

A lot of modern play tower equipment also comes with features that encourage physical development, these include traversing slopes, ropes and nets, climbing poles, wobbly bridges and slides.

Personal, social and emotional development

Often their first experience of prolonged time away from their families, going to an EYFS setting requires children to quickly develop their personal, social and emotional skills. Encouraging interaction is essential to help children negotiate this steep learning curve and, just as with language and communication, playing group games and taking part in role play activities are key to doing this. Again, playground markings and roleplay equipment help facilitate this, as does messy play equipment, like mud kitchens and water and sand equipment, that children love to play with together.

Understanding the world

Young children find nature fascinating and there’s no better place to give them an understanding of it than outdoors. Unfortunately, not all EYFS providers have an outdoor space where the children can interact with nature. However, this can be overcome with the latest Nature Garden outdoor equipment, such as planters and trellises that can provide greenery even in hard-surfaced play areas, as well as bird feeders and boxes, insect habitats and butterfly boxes.

Additionally, there is equipment for planting seeds and observing them grow and specially designed products that let youngsters see what happens beneath the soil's surface. There are even simple to use weather stations that can be used to monitor the weather.


With games and play an essential element of delivering the EYFS framework, the early years playground is a key learning environment for young children. With careful thought and clever design, even the smallest of spaces can be transformed into a resource that offers a multitude of fun opportunities that facilitate, motivate and inspire children to learn across all seven areas of the EYFS curriculum.

For more information about our range of EYFS and nursery products, visit our Early Years page.


How Outdoor Play Helps Meet NHS Activity Guidelines

NHS activity guidelines

According to the NHS, children of nursery and pre-school age, between one and five years old, should have three hours of physical activity every day, combining both light and more energetic activity. Here, we discuss the NHS advice in more detail and look at how you can help children meet NHS guidelines in your playground.

NHS activity guidelines

The NHS Physical Activity Guidelines for Children Under 5 Years states that all children under five should be physically active for 180 minutes a day, with this spread over the day and including time spent playing outdoors. For those under three, this should be a combination of light and more energetic activity, while for threes and over, the recommendation is that at least one of the three hours should involve ‘moderate-to-vigorous intensity physical activity.’

Light activity is described as walking around, rolling, skipping, hopping, running, jumping, tummy time, messy play, playing with blocks, sand and water and catch-throw games. More active play includes riding a bike or trike, scooting, using a climbing frame, chasing games, ball games and hide and seek.

While these activities generally improve and maintain the health and fitness of all children, it is particularly beneficial for the increasing number of those who are overweight and are at risk of becoming obese as they get older.

Why exercise in preschool settings is so important

Three hours a day, every day, is a lot of time to be active and while children are inclined to get up and move if the chance arises, at home, those opportunities are not always there. Many homes aren’t conducive to energetic physical activity and most parents lead very busy lifestyles, often having to combine parenting young children with work and household chores. Though the vast majority go out of their way to play with their children, providing 180 minutes of physical activity every day can be incredibly difficult for them to achieve.

Except when sleeping, the NHS says children under-fives should not be inactive for long periods. Sitting and watching TV, travelling by car or being pushed in a buggy rather than walking isn’t, according to the guidelines, ‘good for a child's health and development.’

Unlike many homes, nurseries and EYFS settings often have the space, the time and the resources to provide children with the activities that they need.

Outdoor play equipment that helps

There is a lot of outdoor play equipment that can help nurseries and EYFS settings provide children with the opportunities to participate in the activities recommended in the NHS guidelines. Here are some which we think offer the greatest benefits not just for physical activities, but because they also help children develop the key EYFS skills and are great fun.


Age-appropriate climbing equipment comes in a variety of guises today and there are plenty of options for nurseries and EYFS settings. Themed play towers and play castles inspire children to get up and moving, providing the fun of climbing, the thrill of sliding and plenty of opportunity to role play and chase each other about. Physical activity comes from climbing ropes, steps and inclined pathways, crawling through tunnels, sliding down poles and slides and more.

Hopping, skipping & jumping

Quick and easy to install and cost-effective too, playground markings provide everything children need to play a wide variety of hopping, skipping and jumping games. What’s more, not only do they motivate children to get moving, sometimes incredibly energetically, they also provide learning opportunities, both with regard to physical skills, like balance, agility and coordination, and with basic literacy and numeracy skills; helping them to learn letters, numbers, phonics, directions, weather types and more.

Roadway markings

For fast-paced physical activity, take a look at our Roadway playground marking. Not only does it provide a track for trikes and bikes; it also contains many features of a public road, making it more fun to play on and helping children develop a greater sense of road safety. With two directional road markings, roundabouts, parking bays, fuel station and zebra crossings, it’s a mini replica of a real roadway where more intense exercise can take place safely.

Messy play

Children love messy play and it encourages light activity that involves many different muscle groups as they move around, dig, lift and carry. Today, aside from traditional mud kitchens and sand pits, there are bark pits, sand trays and water play pools, magnetic water walls and more to consider.


It is obvious from the NHS guidelines that young children need a lot of physical activity to keep themselves healthy. With many young children not getting enough opportunities at home, nurseries and EYFS settings can make up for the shortfall while the children are in their care. What’s more, with the right outdoor play equipment, not only can the children stay active; they can learn and have lots of fun at the same time.

For more information, visit our Early Years page.


School competitive team sports move unveiled

Competitive team sports will be made compulsory for all primary school children in England, Prime Minister David Cameron has said.

A draft new curriculum this autumn would require participation in sports such as football, hockey and netball.

Mr Cameron has been urged to set out how he intends to secure a sporting legacy from the London 2012 Olympics.

Labour leader Ed Miliband has called on political parties to work together on a 10-year plan to boost sports activity.

‘Recognisable sports’

The prime minister has pointed to a £1bn fund for youth sport, but the government has been criticised for scrapping a target of two hours physical education a week for school children.

London Mayor Boris Johnson has called for two hours a day of compulsory sport.

Continue reading the main story

“Now the London Olympics has been a great success, we need to use the inspiration of the Games to get children playing sport more regularly”

David Cameron Prime Minister

Mr Cameron said earlier this week schools often saw the two-hour target as a maximum and told the BBC that Indian dance was being counted as physical education.

On Saturday he said the national curriculum for primary schools in England would be rewritten with an explicit reference to competitive team sports.

The new curriculum will make it compulsory to take part in “recognised and recognisable sports” and will set out requirements for “team outdoor and adventurous activity”.

Mr Cameron said: “The idea of an Olympics legacy has been built into the DNA of London 2012 from the very beginning.

“Now the London Olympics has been a great success, we need to use the inspiration of the Games to get children playing sport more regularly.”

‘Pursue dreams’

He added: “I want to use the example of competitive sport at the Olympics to lead a revival of competitive sport in primary schools.

“We need to end the ‘all must have prizes’ culture and get children playing and enjoying competitive sports from a young age, linking them up with sports clubs so they can pursue their dreams.

“That’s why the new national curriculum in the autumn will include a requirement for primary schools to provide competitive sport.”

But Philip Collins, a former speech writer for Tony Blair, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme Mr Cameron’s analysis was “about 20 years out of date” and the plans were “effectively reinstating” the Schools Sports Partnership programme – set up by Labour, and cut by the Tories in 2010.

He went on to say playing competitive sport for a school was “intrinsically exclusive” and it was “perfectly sensible to have lots of other physical activities for children who loathed PE”.

Damian Hinds, Conservative MP for East Hampshire, said competitive sport taught children “the power of a team, pushing yourself, and learning that life involves losing some things as well as winning”.

Under the last government, only two in five children took part in competitive sports within schools, with one in five regularly taking part in competitive sport with other schools, he added.

The National Association of Head Teachers has called for further investment in a wide range of school sports.

But it said the government should not seek to dictate the specific games that are played.

Russell Hobby, general secretary of the head teachers’ union, said: “London 2012 has drawn the nation’s attention to the sheer breadth of sports on offer and an enduring legacy would be to see the government promote these, thereby ensuring children enjoy participating at every level. The message is diversity.”


Source – BBC News


Competition for children – right or wrong?

Gareth Southgate has recently been appointed as the FA’s elite performance director and has raised serious concerns relating to coaching children and specifically the overly competitive environments in which they play. This is not news as such as many senior Premier League managers, such as Messrs Wenger, Mourinho and Ferguson have all questioned the English culture of early competitiveness and compared this to more progressive and developmental approaches used with young players on the continent.

It’s going to sound as if the record is stuck now, as I’ve raised this issue before, but how can so much opinion be completely out of sync with latest curricular trends that propose a PE curriculum that increases emphasis on competition? I’m afraid to say that such is the influence of personal perspectives of politicians on our subject area of PE that we stand on the precipice of an era that has the potential to be even more damaging than John Major’s Raising the Game. The movement movement is under threat- if the emphasis is on competition the time spent on quality is often diminished; children are turned off by this lack of time to master movement before being asked to apply it. The proficiency barrier, whereby children can’t participate in certain activities due to their lack of basic fundamental movement skills, is highlighted further when children are asked to participate in static, sterile meaningless sports within adult-based competitive environments.

Whilst competition can be a useful environment in which to develop children with a self-referenced framework it worries me that an over reliance on such environments will stifle creativity and prevent a wider range of children participating. If the outcome is to improve performance, there is very little evidence to suggest that more competition will achieve this. Indeed, there is more evidence to suggest that strong participation routes will lead to more effective and refined performers entering the higher echelons of talent development pathways.

Returning to the starting point, isn’t it strange that the all-encompassing and extremely powerful national sport of football is so set against what is happening in schools PE – the tables seem to be turning.

Dr David Morley is Head of Education at ESP, a consultant for a range of national organisations and NGBs of sport, and holds Visiting Fellow positions at both Northumbria and Leeds Metropolitan Universities.

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