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Two year olds outdoors – Sheja

Sheja is 2 years 9 months old; we see him enjoying the freedom to move, explore and make noise in his nursery garden. We also see him beginning to socialise with other children at the nursery. His home language is Persian and he is also learning English.

Good for looking at

  • EAL
  • Communication and language
  • Playing and exploring
  • Socialising
  • Physical play
  • Object play
  • Music and rhythm
  • Effective adult support

Prompts for developing practice


Stephen clearly enjoys the times when he can focus his attention on Sheja, but there are several other children playing outdoors at the same time. In outdoor play, the adults have several roles that need to be shared and juggled. Team work and a commitment to enabling each other to have time for this level of interaction are necessary, so that overall supervision is not compromised.

  • This is not easy to achieve – could you make this happen in your setting?

Mixed age play can be highly beneficial for both younger and older children, and the outdoors often seems to support this interaction, perhaps because the needs of children are so well met in the outdoor environment.

  • Having closely watched both Sheja and Skye, discuss the benefits and organisational issues for your provision.


While watching the film of Sheja, focus on the materials he uses and consider what makes them good resources for two year-old play outdoors. When there are abundant supplies of simple stuff; when children can do what they need with them; and when they are open to emerging symbolic (pretend) and interactive play, they have high play value.

  • Use this to review the resources provided outdoors in your setting to ensure their value for play and development.
  • Extend your discussions to also consider how well the outdoor resources are organised, so as to make them accessible and easy to use for adults and well presented to children. Does the flexibility of the outdoor space itself support flexible use of these resources?


In this film, we repeatedly see the benefits of adults really knowing the child well – this is brought about in these settings by a key person approach.

  • Use the sequences to debate how adults can share their knowledge about children between key groups and with parents to maximise the ways they can support all children, especially in a bilingual situation [Siraj-Blatchford & Clarke 2000: chapter 3].

Noticing the subtle details of young children’s play and recognising their significance ensures that responses more appropriate and effective, and makes the job very rewarding.

  • Discuss what this film has made you more aware of or interested in about two year-old play outdoors.


It is really important for the practitioners to find out and share lots of information about Sheja’s experiences with his family in order to know how to interpret his play behaviour and best support him, including exchanging knowledge about his growing vocabularies in both languages. The words he is using at home can then be used in parallel with English words both indoors and outside.

  • Share ideas for how this can be done in a busy setting with busy parents.

Men are often more comfortable with physical and silly play and more inclined to play in this way to meet the rough & tumble and ‘dizzy’ play needs of children, especially boys.

  • Do your parents (including fathers) understand this need and what are their views about touch and ‘rough’ play?


Booklet - Additional notes and information for Two Year Olds Outdoors Download