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

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.

Mathematics

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.

Conclusion

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.

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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.

Climbing

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.

Conclusion

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.

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Best Outdoor Nursery Equipment for Active Kids

Active kids are full of beans and can’t wait to get outside to play. But where do nurseries and pre-schools start when it comes to choosing outdoor nursery equipment that will satisfy their hunger for action while ensuring they stay safe? Luckily, there is some fantastic apparatus available and here, we’ll look at different types of child-friendly equipment suitable for such young children.

Trim Trails

Tree Trail Trim Trail

Trim Trails are a common feature in both school and public playgrounds. If you’re an early years provider, you’ll also be pleased to know that there are versions specifically designed for pre-school children.

Essentially, a Trim Trail is a combination of different pieces of equipment which can be put together to make a fun obstacle course in your playground. With balance beams, log striders, challenge climbing nets, low height jungle bars, rope traverses, wobbly bridges and much more to choose from, your active kids are never going to run out of exciting challenges to tackle.

One of the best things about Trim Trails is that you can pick and choose from the various components in order to build a course that suits your children, your space and your budget. Alternatively, you can order pre-designed nursery items such as the Tree Trail Coppice or the Tree Trail Spinney which have everything included.

Play Towers

play towers

Younger children love climbing on play towers and they are a really useful piece of apparatus to keep active children engaged as they are great fun to climb and exceptionally useful for helping children make up their own roleplay adventure. At ESP Play, we’ve added special features to encourage this, such as castle towers and turrets, flags, drawbridges and pitched roofed dens.

Play towers come in all sizes which means there is something for those with limited outdoor space. Depending on the model you choose, features include tunnels, bridges, slides, sliding poles, ramps, rope nets and even climbing walls.

Wild Wood

wild wood outdoor play equipment

Designed to complement your green outdoor spaces or to help create a sense of the great outdoors in an otherwise manmade landscape, our Wild Wood set of equipment is ideal for active, early years children.

Made from hand profiled timber, you can choose your own elements from the set and these include imaginatively designed treehouses, wigwams, hollow climb-through logs, coppice trails, log climbers, mountain and mines (climb up – crawl under) sets, forest weaves and much, much more. Great fun to play on, their attractive design turns your playground into a little adventure world where the kids feel comfortable and are encouraged to play.

Tangled

tangled - outdoor play equipment

Like Wild Wood, our wooden Tangled products also create that feeling of escapism when a child enters the playground. However, as the name implies, the central theme of this set of apparatus is rope play. The pieces let active children work off steam through climbing nets and rigging at angles varying between horizontal and vertical. There are also traversing beams where children use guide ropes to get across.

Imagination being at the heart of this set of equipment, the designs are inspired by spiders’ webs and ships rigging and feature aptly chosen names like cobweb, tarantula, black widow and wolf.

Tangled has proved to be one of the most popular options for young children as it is ideal for developing skills with balancing, climbing and swinging, as well as helping with coordination, challenge and resilience.

Playground Markings

playground markings - outdoor play equipment

One of the most affordable solutions to cater for active children in the playground is to install sports markings. These are ideal for getting lots of children involved at the same time in games like football, or netball. Although they might not have mastered the skills at this early age, just providing them with a marked-out pitch and some goals or a net is often enough to get them running around having fun.

If you have space, why not consider installing the Roadway markings. These create a mini roadway in the playground, complete with road markings, mini roundabouts, traffic lights, parking spaces and more. Ideal for running around pretending to be a car, or for children at nurseries with trikes, scooters or pedal cars. They are also a great way to help children learn about road safety.

Conclusion

As you can see, nurseries and pre-schools have a range of options they can choose from when looking to provide playground equipment suitable for active, early years children. All the pieces covered in this post are designed to be safe for young children, are robustly made and constructed for constant, heavy use. For additional playground safety, take a look at our softer playground surfacing options, such as wetpour and rubber mulch.

For more information about these products or for help with design, contact us on 01282 43 44 45. We’ll be glad to help.

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Early Years Playground Equipment For Developing Key Skills

During Early Years, it’s critical that young children are given the opportunity to develop the key skills that will help them progress more quickly once they reach Key Stage 1 and beyond. For children at this age, play is an essential part of their learning routine so it is important to give them access to equipment that can help them acquire and hone these skills. This doesn’t just include indoor equipment: providing early years playground equipment can be just as beneficial and here we’ll look at how it can be used to develop the skills EYFS pupils need.

Personal effectiveness

early years outdoor play

Developing personal effectiveness means giving young children the skills needed to deal with the world in which they live. It means teaching them to set goals, take on challenges, develop resilience and experience success.

These are all skills that, with the appropriate resources, can be developed and practised in the nursery playground. Challenge, for example, can be facilitated by installing climbing and traversing walls installed over wetpour playground surfacing. Here, children can set themselves goals about which climbs to tackle and the best ways to make it from one end to the other. Of course, at some point, they might find the challenge daunting or even fall off and need to restart. Keeping going, however, helps them to be more resilient. When they finally overcome the challenge, they will then get to taste success. And while this all seems like a fun game, the personal effectiveness skills they acquire in the playground can, ultimately, be transferred to other scenarios.

Collaboration

early years outdoor play

Everyone needs to develop skills in working with others. Children will need it not just through their school years but in their careers and private lives, too. During their education, they’ll take part in paired and group work, as well as being involved with various teams. Indeed, as collaborative learning techniques are now widely used, it’s the pupils who have mastered those skills that will benefit the most, performing better in lessons, learning quicker and progressing further.

For Early Years providers wanting to increase the opportunities for the development of collaborative skills, there are a number of playground equipment pieces you can choose. An Early Years Trim Trail obstacle course is ideal for getting children to participate in teams, as they will need to work together to complete the course successfully. Outdoor percussive instruments are also helpful as children will have to cooperate when creating their own musical patterns using xylophones, drums, drainpipe drums and washboards.

Creative thinking

Creativity is the uppermost skill on Bloom’s Taxonomy pyramid so encouraging children to develop creative thinking skills can have significant benefits. Children are often at their most creative during unstructured activities where there are fewer rules to restrict their freedoms. This makes the playground the ideal place to provide such opportunities and by installing the right motivational equipment, you can help spark the creative fire.

For younger children, there are plenty of pieces available. There are outdoor art and design boards for painting, drawing and mark making, the musical instruments mentioned above, and for the dramatically inclined, there are stages where children can rehearse and perform dances, plays and other types of performance to their peers. All these forms of equipment can motivate early years pupils to take part in activities that hone their creative thinking.

Skills in communication

early years outdoor play markings

Being able to communicate well is crucial for helping children perform in the classroom and for their social development. It is vital, therefore, that there are plenty of opportunities to practice these skills from the earliest of nursery ages. Luckily, children of this age love to roleplay and this enables them to explore ways of communicating by thinking up different social scenarios and talking with a range of invented and real characters.

While early years pupils are naturally inclined to roleplay, they often require some form of inspiration, such as props and costumes, to get them started. With this in mind, here at ESP Play, we have put together a useful collection of outdoor roleplay equipment to encourage all children to get involved. You can choose from stages, shop kiosks, play huts, storytelling chairs, bridges, a carriage and even a wooden train.

Literacy and numeracy

early years outdoor play

The sooner a child learns numbers and letters and their corresponding sounds, the sooner they are able to develop skills in maths and English. Finding ways to encourage such learning can be a challenge in a nursery setting. However, there are ways you can use playground equipment so that the emphasis is on fun and the learning is done almost without thinking. For example, there are simple playground markings with numbers and letters on them. These can be used for hopscotch and other stepping or ball games. As they play, children will become naturally familiar with the letters and numbers without having to ‘learn’ them in a traditional way.

Conclusion

During EYFS, providers are required to help children develop a wide range of key skills. Doing so helps to remove many of the barriers they would face later on in their learning journey, making them better equipped to progress and attain. With the right outdoor equipment, many of these skills can be encouraged, developed and honed during play activities in the playground or outdoor area.

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Solutions for the Ideal Nursery Playground

An ideal nursery playground is one that best suits the needs of the young children that use it and, as every nursery is unique, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Indeed, as older children move on and younger ones join, those needs may change over time. To help you find a solution which works for you, here we’ll look at the basic elements of a nursery playground and show you what it is possible to achieve.

Think design rather than random organic growth

early years outdoor play

Even if you already have some equipment installed, it’s always a good idea to go back to the drawing board before buying anything new. If you buy something and put it somewhere just because that’s where there is a space, you might not be creating the most useful playground for your children.

Rather than letting your playground grow organically, rather like the random nature of many British town centres, a much better solution is to design the layout of your playground, just as you do your indoor space.

Through design, you’ll be able to create different zones for different purposes, enabling you to cater for a wider range of children’s needs while letting you better organise and manage outdoor activities. As a result, your nursery will be safer, as hazardous activities can be kept apart; and children can be more independent, as you’ll need to intervene less often.

Consider your needs

early years outdoor play

Once you have decided to create zones, you then need to think about the types of zones you might want and the equipment you put into them. Your choice here will be influenced by the interests and needs of your children and the need to deliver the EYFS curriculum. There is, however, no prescribed rule as to what you should include, so long as your nursery space and equipment is safe for children.

A place for active play

early years outdoor play - music

Nursery children can be full of energy and need an outdoor space where they can run around and be active. Not only is this great fun for them, it’s also healthy and encourages them to play together, form friendships and develop social and physical skills.

As children can quickly get fed up of just running around, it is a good idea to provide them with something more challenging and fun to play on but which still helps them stay active. Popular solutions include play towers with built-in slides, climbing nets, ropes and bridges, and low-height, Trim Trail obstacle course equipment that is specially designed for smaller children. Your active play area can also include playground markings, such as sports pitch markings or even a roadway with traffic lights, roundabouts and zebra crossings.

A space to be creative

early years outdoor play markings

Whether putting paint on paper, role playing or making sounds, nursery aged children have boundless imaginations and love being creative. While you may do some of these activities indoors, creating an outdoor zone where children can explore their imaginations more freely is a great way to develop their creative skills.

Nurseries have lots of options available to them when considering which creative playground equipment to purchase. There are plenty of easy to clean mark making tables and uprights that can be used for painting, drawing and chalking; there are a wide selection of built-in percussion instruments, like musical chimes, drainpipe drums and xylophones; and there are lots of pieces that can inspire the most inventive role plays, such as body-warping mirrors, log bridges and tunnels, play huts, shop kiosks, theatre façades, wigwams and wooden trains.

Somewhere to be messy

early years outdoor play

While messy play involving sand and water is the absolute bee’s knees for kids, it can be a very impractical activity to do indoors, creating slip hazards on the floors and requiring someone to deal with all the mess. Moving it outside into its own discrete zone, however, solves a lot of problems.

From a learning perspective, the great fun to be had playing with sand and water teaches children the different properties of these tactile materials, letting them explore how they feel and move and how they can be combined and made into sand castles, sculptures and mud pies. Indeed, water and sand play equipment, such as mud kitchens, splash pools and sand boxes provide the ideal sensory play area for nursery aged children.

A place to be reflective

early years outdoor play

Nothing gives a sense of calm more than being outside and surrounded by nature. Creating a quiet space not only helps children to feel relaxed and reflective, it also provides somewhere they can get up close to the natural world.

For nurseries that lack an on-site green space, it is possible to create them using planters and trellises. Trellises planted with climbers can be used to create green walls that separate the space from the rest of the busy playground and help keep it somewhere special. Planters can then be used to add colourful plants or even to grow food. You can replace the asphalt surface with artificial grass, if needed, or simply add a few benches or outdoor seats so children can be read to on warmer days.

To attract nature, simply install somewhere for insects to live, such as a butterfly box, insect habitat or ladybird towers. You can add a bird table, too. There’s an interesting selection of nature equipment you can choose from for your nursery garden.

Conclusion

Getting the right equipment for your playground and putting it in the most appropriate places can transform your nursery, making a far more enjoyable outdoor space that can be used for a wider range of learning activities. For more information about our range of nursery equipment, visit our Early Years page.

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