Children and Outdoor Play Spaces

course9-lesson2-photo1Outdoor play spaces in early learning programs are most fulfilling to children when they are uniquely designed to provide places where they can hide and climb and run and pause.  The space includes places where children become deeply engaged in thinking and exploring, wondering and imagining, tinkering and discovering.  And, outdoor play spaces change with the seasons and with children’s varying interests.

Outdoor play environments are most effective when they are planned for and with children with or without disabilities that “encourage children’s active participation” (Hanline, 1999, p. 290).  Early learning teachers benefit in examining space from the perspective of being “a planned arrangement of ideas, people, time, space and resources” (McLean, 1995, p. 7). Outdoor play spaces that offer a variety of options and opportunities support children in gaining a sense of belonging, using their senses and exercising the feeling of freedom that contributes to them exploring and discovering (Dietze & Kashin, 2012).

There is an increased movement among early learning programs to observe children’s interests and skills and use such information as the foundational strategy in the design and changes that occur within the outdoor play spaces. Advocates of outdoor play are suggesting that early learning programs focus on children’s potential play experiences rather than on commercial equipment as the primary strategy for designing space. Taking such an approach requires an examination of the characteristics of the space and the types of resources available that would complement children’s ideas. Space that has the possibility to change rather than be static increases children’s ability to engage in play that is child initiated and reflective of their ideas and desires.

When planning outdoor play space, it is important to consider the stakeholders – the children, staff, parents and the organization.

Reflect on the following question and then record your answer in the comment box below.  If you had a blank canvas of an outdoor play space for children, how would you proceed to develop the space and what key resources would you hope to put into the space?  Why?


  1. Minni Harris

    If I had unlimited funds I would add running water feature and a small creek bed with smooth pebbles and rocks. I would love to see mini grass hills for children ton run or roll down on, also numerous loose materials and an outdoor kitchen play space.

  2. Minni Harris

    If I had unlimited funds and a blank space to work with I would have some green space for the kids to plant flowers, trees and veggies and fruit trees. Along with a grassy mound and a stream with smooth rocks also loose materials sticks, rocks, also a soil/mud area with outdoor kitchen area and last but not least a huge fallen tree and tree stumps and a boulder for children to climb and explore

  3. Hongyun Zheng

    If I had enough outdoor play space I would like to design into different areas that allowed children can free explore.

    First garden. children can plant some verges and fruits.
    Second nature space that have a vary of nature elements include grass,sticks,rocks,water,tree,
    Third big space for children movement

  4. Anita Diepdael

    If I had a blank canvas and adequate resources in designing a play space for children, I would want a large space. I would like there to be different elements in it such as grass, trees, flowers, sand, rocks, a vegetable garden. I would even love some fruit trees. I would have wooden climbing toys, a outdoor circle area with wooden stumps. I would include many different loose parts and toys that could be transformed in to other play items. I would like to have a hill, ropes. I would have a bike path.

  5. Angela George

    We are still learning about the possibilities for our new play yard but if I had a space to plan I would want a mud kitchen with access to water and built with shelves and cupboards for all the pots, pans, dishes, cutlery, baking dishes etc.
    I would also like a sandbox area for children to play and explore that medium.
    I would like a climbing wall and sound board for children to bang
    I would like a large long table child friendly for art and science projects etc
    I would like some grass and trees and an adequate space to build with the loose parts that are brought in
    And a garden space for children to learn about growing things and harvesting
    And a bike track for trikes, and car washes, drawing with chalk, running races, obstacle courses
    I know I don’t ask for much

  6. Christine Norman

    If I had a blank canvas and endless money I would design the most amazing outdoor space. It would have different areas for mud and sensory play, large stumps and rocks for gross motor and endless amounts of loose parts. There would be different textures to explore and some spaces for children to hide and make forts. There would also be art areas and a garden. There will be a lot of natural materials and children would have plenty of opportunities to contribute to the environment.

  7. Cindy Spencer

    I would include more natural space such as logs, boulders, sticks and rocks. I would like a stream of water so the children can engage in water play, mud play, and listen to water running through the play space. I would like a tunnel that goes through a mound of grass, like a hill so the children can experiment and climb or roll down a hill. I would like trees of all kinds and sizes so the children can enjoy climbing or laying under, or running around trees.

  8. Michelle Davis

    If you had a blank canvas of an outdoor play space for children, how would you proceed to develop the space and what key resources would you hope to put into the space? Why?
    I would have so many trees, and shrubs, and gardens. Hills for climbing and rolling down. A space where children can be still and quiet, to rest. A spot for us to gather. Sand and water spots. Big rocks to climb on or “pop a squat” on. I think I would have a few tire swings and an endless supply of loose parts.

  9. Jasmine Park

    If you had a blank canvas of an outdoor play space for children, how would you proceed to develop the space and what key resources would you hope to put into the space? Why?

    I will ask children first and figure out what they want. Definitely, children in our center will want trees to climb up, bushes to hide, raspberry trees to pick fruits, little garden for planting, sand area for playing, long side walk for riding a bike, easels for painting, swings and a big slide, water and mud… Nature, loose parts (open-ended materials), and risk play can be the main resources that I hope to put into the outdoor space.
    The outdoor space invites children to deeply engage in nature, play, collaboration with peers and challenge themselves. With active interaction with the outdoor space, children will build their own knowledge and develop their physical, emotional and cognitive skills.

  10. Xintong Wang

    If you had a blank canvas of an outdoor play space for children, how would you proceed to develop the space and what key resources would you hope to put into the space? Why

    I would definitely include many aspects into it, lots of loose parts and lots of space for them to explore and do different things such as a space for building fort and stuff, a space for natural items

  11. Nikki Littlechild

    If I had a blank canvas and no restrictions I would include as many natural items as possible, a little stream with rocks alongside it, trees for climbing, a variety of plants and bushes, a garden and a variety of textures for the ground such as grass, rocks, dirt etc I would also include a few of the more common items such as a mud kitchen and sandbox. And if I really had free reign I would also include a pit house and fire ring! While I realize some of this may be unrealistic due to licensing regulations, I would love to be able to include all of this if I had a blank canvas with no restrictions! 🙂

  12. Jennifer Yarmish

    If you had a blank canvas of an outdoor play space for children, how would you proceed to develop the space and what key resources would you hope to put into the space? Why?

    I would love to see the perimeter of the space be gardens that the children could work in, a bike path that meandered on a landscape that included hills, trees, gardens and boulders. I would look at incorporating ways that the children could utilize those trees and boulders for climbing and jumping. A heated/shaded area that children could have circle/meeting time in during all the seasons combined with open areas for them to be out in the elements.
    Hills to slide and roll down…vine/grass/shrub mazes and quiet area… so many possibilities!

  13. Shirley Robinson

    I would love to have stumps, logs, big sticks, and sheets, blankets . for me i see them climbing and jumping and making forts, i would love to have grass and some other materials to let them use their immagination

  14. Heather Diewert

    If I were given the opportunity to develop an Outdoor Play Space, I would love it to include a natural creek with plenty of climbing trees surrounding it.
    I would include natural wooden planks, wood stumps, boulders, with ropes and tie downs. There would be a storage shed that could hold tools; hammers, shovels rakes, and loose parts.
    We’d have gauzy sheets to make shelters, and heavier blankets for tarps.
    I would want the space to remain aesthetically natural as possible so that children feel like they are in the woods.
    This opportunity would be a teacher’s dream!

  15. Rachael Ewan

    If you had a blank canvas of an outdoor play space for children, how would you proceed to develop the space and what key resources would you hope to put into the space? Why?
    Since reading some of the modules, I would consider the elements. Fire, water, earth and air. Fire may not be practical, but in the case that it was a fire pit. Water has many options, you would need a water supply and then containers to hold, pour and fill. For earth, we can have dirt and rocks, both small and large. The wind element would be represented by fabrics, either loose or tied into trees. Key resources would be loose parts, natural materials and natural elements. These materials can be used in the most ways.

  16. Rachelle Gregoire

    I would create a large garden with plants that grow quickly to create arches and paths and spaces to climb. I would have a dirt pile to dig in. I would love a dry river bed with a bridge. I would create a space for loose parts to be stored. The loose parts would change often.

  17. Katarina Ninkovic

    One of first things I would do is add water!!! Either a foundation….or a pond or lake! I would love for the children in my care to experience play near and around water! I would also love to be surrounded by huge Oak trees that i can climb 🙂

  18. Katarina Ninkovic

    One of first things I would do is add water!!! Either a foundation….or a pond or lake! I would love for the children in my care to experience play near and around water!

  19. Dana Wilson

    If you had a blank canvas of an outdoor play space for children, how would you proceed to develop the space and what key resources would you hope to put into the space? Why?

    I would create a play space that was large and had many natural areas such as gardens and treed areas. I would want a big covered sand box with seating around it, possibly the seating would be storage for sand toys, loose parts etc. I would like grassy area that children could run and enjoy and some harder surface for a bike path. I would like an area with climbers made from logs, and ropes with tunnels and places for the children to have some space from others. I would like stumps and boulders for children to climb. I would like accessible storage for loose parts and art materials.

  20. lisa.rodney

    If you had a blank canvas of an outdoor play space for children, how would you proceed to develop the space and what key resources would you hope to put into the space? Why?
    I would have a meandering path in the woods with trees and flowers. There would be places to dig, places to explore with hidey spaces, there would be places to climb and build. The space would have lots of loose parts and storage for materials. There would be new materials mixed with the familiar. There would be elements to attract nature – bird feeder, butterfly plants and there would be sound – chimes or a music wall. I would include reflective surfaces, spaces for dramatic play (a shelter or boat) materials for tinkering and places to gather. Love the sit spot idea. If possible, I’d also include a fire pit and hammocks.

  21. Anna Mary McKenney

    If I had a blank canvas I would include different textured grounds. Sand, stone, grass, wood chips. I would have large loose parts like stumps and logs. A mud kitchen and water feature. I would have trees for shade and a table for staff and children to sit at while they do activities for take a break. I would have more vertical space we could use for art or any child led exploration.

  22. Krista Ambrose

    If I had a blank canvas of an outdoor play space for children, I would develop the space with the children in mind. I would want trees, grassy area, garden, sandbox and maybe a small water area. I would want lots of nature elements like rocks, logs, and stumps. I would want loose parts and proper storage for them. I want the children to see birds, squirrels, bugs and any other wild animal. I want the children to be able to discover and learn from the area. I want the children to be curious and excited about going outside everyday. I want the children to be able to play in the rain, snow and bright sunshine.

  23. Jody Anderson

    If I had an outdoor play space that was a blank slate I would first take into account the children who would be utilizing the space. How will it be used by children and the adults in the program? Do you want to create a space that encourages familes to also want to spend time there with their children when they come to your program to pick their children up.
    I wold looks at all the various types of play and ensure that there are opportunities daily for all of the types. I would focus on providing moveable parts that are not commercial but have the potential to be something one day but complety different the next day like large logs, stumps, rocks or boulders, I would of course take safety into account when planning the space to ensure that all safety procedures would be in place. I would create science areas that would specifically be dedicated to sparking interest and bringing new and novel items in for the children to explore. I would love to have egg hatching or other experience that would allow the children to see first hand what thay involved. Anmals would be AMAZING to have in that space but I am sure due to restrictions that would likely not be possible.
    I would take into account the physical limits of the space and what I could do to enhance or work with that space.
    A variety of surfaces, hills, gardens and other natrual items such as trees, grass, gardens, shrubs and little secret hiding places for little people.
    I would create a space that you would enter and be able to discover different things throughout the year. It would need to be astheticall pleasing and would need to have appropriate storage spaces that were not only functional but also suited the space. The reason I would plan most of the above items would be to create a space that would create a balance between calming and stimulating that also encouraged creativity and possibilites.

  24. Lindsey Cooper

    I picture the ideal outdoor space to have trees or plants for children to enjoy, watch grow and appreciate its natural beauty. I picture a bridge or tree stumps for the children to practice climbing. A sandbox or water/sand table with the space to have a mud kitchen. I also picture different textured ground, a concrete path for wheelchairs and bikes, gravel, sand, and green grass. The different textured ground will allow the children to explore each unique ground and figure out how each one is different. I would have a spot for a picnic table for the days that we can spend more time outdoors. A spot to store loose parts for the children to play with. I also would have a shaded spot for the hot days or for the children that don’t want to get wet on the rainy days.

  25. Amanda Funk

    We have so much in our ecosystem to work with. Safety and accessibility will affect the design.

  26. Bonnie Willson

    If I had a blank canvas, I would hope to have access to nature items such as twigs, logs, sticks, rocks, tree stumps, bodies of water, access to dirt and mud, loose parts like tree cookies, tubes, hoses, shovels. I would plant trees and be sure the children had things to build with, hide under and play with any way they can imagine.

  27. Grace Smith

    Our outdoor space has already quite a few play structures. I would probably consider to have more trees, bushes and big rocks .

  28. Maria Agustin

    I will develop the outdoor play space by putting trees, gardens, rocks, sandboxes. Put running water, many loose parts. Pathways for bikes. Picnic tables.

  29. Amanda Christison

    I would try to make it as natural as possible and inviting so that we could spend the majority of our time outside no matter what time of year it was. I would have lots of trees as well as stumps, logs and branches. The children could sit under the large trees on a hot day or try climbing them. We could also put in a hammock if they wanted a rest outside. I’ve always wanted a pond and something with a flowing waterfall as the sound of flowing water is so calming to me. I would have lots of green space and a garden for the children to help me with and take care of. We would try to grow our own fruits and vegetables which we could later enjoy. I would also have a mud kitchen as the children always seem to gravitate toward that and love engaging themselves in dramatic play there. A sand pit and a place for messy mud play would be ideal as well as an outdoor sink or washing area for the children to wash themselves off afterwards. Also, a large area with natural and loose parts for the children to tinker with and explore would be ideal in my outdoor play space. Overall, I would want the space to be something the children are proud of and excited about to play in and spend their whole day in there.

  30. Nicole Robinson

    If you had a blank canvas of an outdoor play space for children, how would you proceed to develop the space and what key resources would you hope to put into the space? Why?

    I would ask for stumps, a shelter, logs, boards, a sand area, mud kitchen, native trees and plants, herbs, flowers, branches, wooden spools, several natural shelters. All of these things can be used as a starting point for further inquiries.

  31. Amanda Funk

    I would hope for an stablished forest with old trees, ground cover, wildlife and season changes.

  32. Ruth Novak

    My dream outdoor space would have logs to build with. Some sort of water table for the children to explore. Lots of loose parts: branches, leaves… etc. A garden for the children to plant fruits, veggies and flowers so they can learn their life cycle :). A resting area with some tree trunk chairs. Giant tires for the children to jump in. A sand area is also something I’d have as well. I love music so pots and pans or wind chimes would be fun to have.

  33. Betty-Ann Ryz

    My developed outdoor space would have trees, pond/creek, rocks, mud kitchen, culverted tunnel, bike paths, flower & vegetable gardens, small animal enclosure, a washroom, outside rinse off area, change clothing room, lumber area for building, playhouses, outside eating area and various assortment of loose parts with tons of storage. This is my ideal outdoor space as it would be engaging with so much to learn and really no reason to go inside unless the temperature dropped to -15.

  34. Karin Freiberg

    Trees, pond, small bushes, natural pathways, trenching tools, many sizes of fabric, mud kitchen, vegetable garden, ropes & pulleys, large boxes, clay, mark making supplies…

  35. Shannon Stewart

    If I imagined creating my outdoor play space, I would include the following:
    -tress to climb and to provide shade and private spaces
    -access to running water
    -large and small loose parts to build with, sort and collect
    -a mud kitchen
    -place to dig
    -stump garden
    -large boulders
    -accessible ground cover – grass would be fine
    -garden box or flower garden

  36. Mikaela Reyes

    I imagine a play space to have lots of fruit bearing trees, flowers, and a little dam where they can explore with water. Natural materials will be available for children to explore with. There will also be a mud area, sand area, and fire pit. A space for napping is a must as well as for eating outdoors.

    I will also make sure this will include a big storage room to ensure that children will be able to play with materials they encountered the previous days.

  37. Jessica Garner

    To develop the space, I would engage with key stakeholders such as educators, families, and community members to understand our hopes and dreams for the space. Key resources I would hope to have include hills, space for water play, a garden, interesting elements such as a boat or a hill slide, plenty of grass and nature, dirt or sand, and loose parts. I would hope to create a dynamic environment where children could engage in a variety of learning for extended periods of time through all seasons.

  38. Ginette Pelletier

    If I to design a play area I would have climbers, slide, table and chairs for the parents to sit and to engage with there children,
    I would have pathways for bikes, walking, and for cars.
    I would have a picnic table so they can sit and have snack outside on a beautiful day.
    There would also be a sand play area for the children.
    On hot days I would have a small pool for the children to cool off

  39. Kimberley Thompson

    The space I imagine would have all.nature in it , such as sand, trees, water, animals , a garden, big rocks to climb, an area for creativity and imagination, loose parts,an outside art area, outside eating area, and an area for outside naps.

  40. Gretchen Conti

    Ideally the space would mimic what we find in nature. Whether that be a forest with trees, stumps, sticks, rocks, streams, and meadow; or a beach with sand, water, rocks, sea life, and trees. Some areas would be sheltered, or provide the opportunity to create shelters, and others would be open spaces to run and tumble. Activities such as biking, climbing, jumping would be worked in at various times, to switch up the activities of interest.

  41. Lucie Pendergraff

    I would create a space that would allow for a balance of imaginative, constructive, exploratory and risky play opportunities but having areas like a garden, a hill with a slide built in, logs and rocks, a small and shallow pond that could allow for fish or frogs. I would have loose parts that would encourage dramatic play like things for building forts or houses.

  42. Annette Casey

    Trees, stream, rocks all sizes, sticks, forts, loose materials, and much more. Help from parents, community, business.

  43. Charlene Durrant

    Trees, grass, plants, gardens and all the tools to look after a garden. Bird houses and feeders, sand water, mud, rocks, equipment that can be easily moved. And lots of storage space for all the wonderful and different loose parts we would have and make it all child accessible.

  44. Amanda N

    I would build a place full of nature with trees, plants, and gardens. I would add objects that could be easily relocated, but also add rocks, logs, ropes.

  45. Prabhulata Immaraju

    In collaboration with the team n management and if we already have parents n children then taking their input, I would definitely have trees n greenery,areas for sand n water play, tires, logs, rocks, pathways for bikes , a shed or place where children have access to choose what they want to play with, a place with shade/ covered deck for a place to warm up or cool down, a spot for a garden. Bins for loose parts, areas for tinkering n building.

  46. Mizuho Kashiwagi

    If I had a blank canvas of an outdoor play space, I would make grass area, sandy area, rocky area, paved area, and some trees area. I would put different kinds of loose parts on each areas. Oh! and easy access to water as well.

  47. Nikki Meyer

    If I could create an outdoor play space it would have some hills and be filled with trees, flowers, shrubs, stumps, rocks, and branches. It would have a little creek, garden areas and many loose parts for children to use in investigations and discovery.

  48. Andrea Preissl

    I would add lots of greenery – trees, large and small bushes, and plants with scents. There would be boulders and logs to climb and places to hide. I would also include a large storage for loose parts.

  49. Nadira Ramnauth

    I will develop the space by planting trees, adding toys and equipment for children of all ages. I will ensure that the environment is set up to meet the needs of all children, including the ones with disabilities. I will add lots of loose parts, nature items and materials for risky plays. I will add sandboxes and tap water. These are great sensory activities for the children.

    It is important to set up the environment to reach each child’s need because every child is special and need to be valued and included in all activities. The outdoor environment needs to be set up with different toys, materials and other equipment because that is where most of the learning and exploring are taking place.

  50. Joanne Falk

    If I had a blank canvas, my playground would include lots of trees and shrubs, a place where the children and staff would be able to eat outdoors/have picnics. Have pathways leading to tree stumps that they can walk/balance on. Have a garden that the children can help grow flowers/plants. Have some tires, big rocks and a sandbox, have tire swings on the trees. This playground would be inviting and inclusive for everyone.

  51. Kathy Barnhart

    If you had a blank canvas of an outdoor play space for children, how would you proceed to develop the space and what key resources would you hope to put into the space? Why?

    Children deserve a place to be free and to enjoy the outdoors. If I had unlimited funds and opportunity to design a play space it would be a good size and it would have trees and shrubs, waterfall and play structures built into the natural space. There would be play centres in a sense that would have tools, and equipment conducive to exploring. there would be an opportunity for bug collecting and observing birds and small animals. maybe even a tree to climb.

  52. Caroline Driedger

    A blank canvas can also be overwhelming. I would collaberate with my peers, parents and most importantly the children. I would then access adequate resources in design one that has done outdoor play areas to specialize in exploration, natural materials (Water sand) , gardening capabilites keeping in mind wild flowers and vegetables. Areas outside to store our loose parts amterials so we are not starting over but can add as we go. Oh the possibilties!!!!

  53. Erin Lihou

    I would definitely have a garden space to utilize in all the seasons. I would have trees and shrubs as well. I would include a proper climbing park, swings, slides, playhouse, sandbox, and jumping logs. And an outdoor eating space

  54. Deborah Fehr

    My head is spinning with more questions than answers, so I’ll assume that money and space are non-issues. I would start with a forest, talk to children and families and other ECE about what is most enjoyable to them outdoors and then I would design and build. Creating space within the forest to include. wooden pathways (to accommodate wheels), places for individuals that are quiet and enclosed, fire pits, stumps for benches, places for art materials and loose parts, spaces large enough for community gatherings, access to water and mud, perhaps a mud kitchen, blocks and manipulatives, hammocks, and swings for one or more than one, places to hide, places to gather natural materials, places to grow from seeds, places that provide a cover from the rain, places to re-enact daily experiences e.g. social dramatic accessories and so on and so on.

  55. Janice Duncan

    My blank canvas would include a variety of trees, tree stumps in various lengths as a pathway, there would be a border with large rocks, a few raised bed gardens for the children to plant vegetables, a flower garden with native plants to attract butterflies, access to water and a hose, dirt or sand pit, pine cones, sticks and buckets and a shed.

  56. Carrie Maclellan 

    Key resources would be so many loose parts, Id love to see a dramatic play area outside, mud kitchens. LARGE building materials for the children to manipulate into structures as well as fabric such as sheets. Id love to have a large garden and access to animals. Id also include some western development such as large climbing\play structures or a rock wall.

  57. Kathryn Armstrong

    I would want the design of the space to be a collaboration involving children, staff and parents. I would like to see trails with plants or trees that give a sense of adventure. A covered outdoor space that can be used year round. Hills for sliding in the winter and areas that have water accessible for the summer. Space to grow flowers and vegetables and encourage insects to be part of the space.

  58. Jaclyn Geiger

    That would be amazing to design a play space with a blank canvas, I wold love to visit and explore spaces like this for inspiration.
    I would want natural treed space to explore and sit with meandering trails and a stream (I can dream right?)
    More within my control, I would vegetable garden beds, sand box, open space for varied loose part exploration, shade covers, circle of stumps for learning, outdoor board for learning, weather cover for all weather outdoor learning. So many loose parts to rotate with a locked storage bin for organization. I would want it to be a balance of free and natural space with areas for planned focused learning.

  59. Kamaldeep Sidhu

    It would be plenty of trees,grass,natural items,swings,play structure,sand boxes and I will also discuss with my coworkers what would they like to be incorporate for outdoor environment.

  60. Alphonsine Hategekimana

    If you had an outdoor play space for children, how would you go about developing it and what key resources would you want to spend on it? Why or why not?
    First, I would invite parents and caregivers to help me get ideas on how to design outdoor play. Second, I will look at websites to get a general idea of how to design my playground.The play areas should have natural materials for climbing up, down, and over. Have loose parts already built to make the play look like nature. Small trees on four sides to give a sense of nature. A small garden for children and educators, a sandbox and water and mud tray and a set of resources that would stimulate each area of development.

  61. Laura Mcintosh

    If I had a blank canvas I would want my outdoor environment to include natural elements that would increase the learning experience for children. I would want a play structure that interests the children and a garden for they would have the chance to learn about gardening and let them discover what happens with the plants and vegetables.

  62. Nicole Morrell

    If you had a blank canvas of an outdoor play space for children, how would you proceed to develop the space and what key resources would you hope to put into the space? Why?

    I would map out the space and get input from educators, families, and children. I would look at books and get children to cut out pictures. I would observe children playing and decide on the best materials. I would add a small grassy hill, a sand box, a trail of wood chips, trees, gardens etc

  63. Hilary Geddes

    i would try to incorperate large play structures, sandboxes, many loose parts, gardens, art areas and an every that would stimulate every developmental domain

  64. Stephanie Vieira

    If I had a blank space for my outdoors it would be plenty of tress, plants grass. Play structure, loose parts. Mud, shovels and pales.

  65. Ai Paul

    If I had a blank canvas and access to adequate resources in designing a play space for children, first I will ask children, their families and co-workers what they would like to have in the outdoor environment. It is also important to think the space as a continuation of an indoor space. How can children move freely from outdoor space to indoor space. How to make children’s transitions easier (for example, changing clothes, going to bathrooms, having lunch and snack outdoor, not worrying about weather, having a nap time outside etc) Creating outdoor environment cannot talk about without thinking about the indoor environment, I would like to see the outdoor space as holistic, like children’s developments.

  66. Heather Howard

    The key resources I would like to have in place if I had a blank canvas for an outdoor play space would include large trees for shade and to climb and have tire swings, a garden for the children to be able to learn about growing and cultivating vegetables and flowers, natural and loose parts such as tree stumps, tree cookies, water and sand play, a mud kitchen equipped with pots and pans, utensils, an area for a workbench and real tools, an art area for children to express their creativity, a space for tinkering with a variety of loose parts and a large space for running, and exploring. The ideas would be endless.

  67. Christine Villeneuve

    I was fortunate to be part of this process in one program I work with. In the beginning, we asked children what they would like to see. This was our most crucial step. Then, we visited other programs to see their outdoor spaces. We researched best practices in other countries, and had the expertise of an individual who designed urban municipal playgrounds (information on drainage, wind, affect of seasons on equipment/buildings etc.). It took 5 years to raise funds, apply for grants, and complete the work. The removal of large plastic equipment to add a large pole teepee, garden beds, mud kitchens, more trees, cobblestone paths, hills with slides, stepping logs, tunnels and much more was a dream!

  68. Lorraine Kok

    If I had a blank canvas for our playground well I would keep the tress they are great they provide natural loose parts for the children to enjoy pine cones, twigs, and shade. I am already in the process of adding a mud kitchen, water troughs, bike path, and outdoor easel, I am going to plant flowers with the children next week, but I would like to add a climbing wall, tree stumps, more loose parts, tires, I also want to get some land ties and plant a vegetable garden rather than the planters we already use.

  69. Alison Rinas

    I have been thinking a lot lately, as to how i would I design a space for children outside. I would large trees that children that could climb, flowers and vegetable garden, mud kitchen, sand, and lots of water to access fro children to explore when they needed it. I would have many loose parts, tree stumps, cookies, tires, and authentic buckets and kitchen materials, pipes, eave stoves. I would have a work bench that would allow real tool for the children to explore and build structures. Bikes, and space to move among the different levels of ground that my outdoor space would have.

  70. Heidi Dueck

    I would hire the best landscapers to ensure the plants could be easily maintained.
    I would created open fields with hills abc have a section of long Praire grass that never gets cut.
    I would have a mud pit.
    I t would be free access and all inclusive.

  71. Patricia Lynch-Staunton

    If you had a blank canvas of an outdoor play space for children, how would you proceed to develop the space and what key resources would you hope to put into the space? Why?
    I would have lots of seasonal plants to support children’s connection to nature, large open spaces for rigorous gross motor play, a varity of pathways for choices about journeys, platforms for dramatic play, mud kitchens and flowing water for sensory play, enclosed spaces such as huts, dens forts for social play, documentaion areas so the children can re-visit their play and communicate their thoughts, loose parts for curiosity driven play and higher-level thinking, storage areas for materials so the children could make choices and be responsible for their play materials.

  72. Daniela Rodriguez

    I would have a variety of materials and objects that will allow children to explore different textures, shapes, and sizes. The goal in my mind to boost their imagination and create a safe, yet entertaining environment.

  73. Romy Ralph

    If I had a blank space I would want grass and sand with tree’s and a garden area where children could sit. I would want some sort of shaded area and a natural wood structure to climb on and sit under. I would also like large rocks for walking on and some wood rounds for moving and making pathways with.

  74. Randi Robertson

    If i had a blank outdoor play space i would put trees for climbing, big rocks, a space full of loose parts, a sandbox, a colourful/ fun playground, a big field full of flowers and green grass!

  75. Kim Hoey

    If I had a blank space for. A playground I would stArt with a hill in one corner. Maybe put a slide in it. Trees. Definitely plant a variety of trees. Some good climbing ones. A sand and garden area. A variety of loose parts. A water area too.

  76. Leisha Kozier

    If I had a blank play space I would have stumps and trees for climbing, rocks for jumping and playing on, if fenced in, I would put trees and shrubs about 3 feet from fence so that children can go behind, and area with long grasses, wild flowers, a place to read or have lunch in the centre of it all, also a garden with flowers, vegetables, and fruits, blueberry plants, strawberry, and raspberry plants. A covered area as well to provide some weather protection, so that we can be outside when its raining, snowing, or for protection from the sun and a place to play alone or sit and gather with friends. I would have a shed that the children could go and help themselves to low shelving, with many many loose parts.

  77. Susanne Saunders

    If I had a blank space I would have natural loose parts, flower, garden, tree, sand, mud, water. I would start with the basics that would encourage the children to explore, watch the children , listen to the children and then add on to the environment. Watching the most used area for by the children . If the children always play house in the shade of a tree that could be the dramatic play area.

  78. Anita Morgan

    If I had a blank space my outdoor list would include loose parts, gardens, flowers, pathways, spaces for sand, water, mud. It would have lots of varied items and natural items

  79. Laurie Millions

    The outdoor play space that our center is creating has an Open use Area, Sand area, Construction area, small climber, Nature Area, Bike Path thru most of the play space.

  80. Taylor Aichelberger

    If I had a blank canvas and access to adequate resources in designing a play space for children, I would create a large outdoor space with wildflower gardens, treed areas, and a vegetable/herb garden. I would have a seating/circle area, lots of loose parts storage and a variety of natural materials. I would love to have a combination of smaller loose parts materials for tinkering and play as well as larger spaces and materials for dramatic play, constructing and more full body play.

  81. Jessica Popp

    The outdoor space promotes the values of supporting a child’s learning experiences in an inspiring and safety environment that support the children’s risk taking. The outdoor play space encourages exploration, discovery and learning by all children by having equitable access to a natural outdoor environment and opportunities using loose parts.