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Two year olds outdoors – Skye

Skye is 2 years 5 months: we see her foraging and exploring her nursery garden environment, exploring objects and materials. We see her taking risks physically and socially in an environment that she feels comfortable in.

Good for looking at

  • COEL
  • Communication and language
  • Social and emotional
  • Physical development
  • Schemas
  • Enabling environments
  • Effective adult support

Prompts for developing practice


At the end of this sequence, we hear Skye complaining about having to go indoors. Young children need to know that they will be able to go outdoors every single day, without fail, preferably several times a day, and to have very gentle transitions between indoor and outdoor time. The most effective and satisfying outdoor play occurs when children have free and easy access to the outdoor environment, or at the least, when adults take children outside whenever that child needs it.

  • How can you work towards this in your setting? What issues would need to be addressed in organisation to help bring this vision about?

Risk management is vital to safe, satisfying and effective provision, both indoors and out, but must take into account the benefits of an experience for the child (for example, by employing risk-benefit assessment [Ball, Gill & Spiegal 2008]).

  • Use the sequence of Skye on the slide, together with these notes, to prompt a discussion on the benefits of such experiences, and how risk and challenge might be suitably balanced for the two year-olds in your setting.


Although quite small, this nursery garden has lots of difference spaces, places and materials.

  • Watch the film to identify all the features that make this a rich environment for Skye’s investigations and play, and how this has been achieved in a small outdoor area.
  • Extend this discussion to consider what your outdoor space could provide to offer a developmentally appropriate outdoor environment for two year-olds.

Small, private spaces are deeply significant places for young children.

  • Share memories of the hidey holes and dens you played in as children, recall how this play made you feel and consider what a child might gain from such experiences – physically, emotionally, socially and cognitively.
  • Outdoor environments in settings need to have lots of small nooks and crannies and materials that can be used to make them – what could be done in your outdoor environment?


As we see from the sequence with Skye and Sophie, the child’s need and right to feel ‘out of sight’ is beginning to matter at this age. When practitioners feel that they must be able to see children at all times, they send unintended negative messages to the child about their competence to look after themselves and that they are not trusted.

  • How can space and time to allow friendships to deepen away from adults be given, without making adults anxious?

Adults working with this age group must have large repertoires of songs and action rhymes, both traditional and popular, that can be drawn on spontaneously, whenever the right moment arises.

  • How can this be supported for play outside?


Effective outdoor provision requires an ethos and vision, underpinned by a strong rationale that is fully shared by parents, that two year-olds must have access to outdoor environments for plenty of time each day, every day of the year.

  • How can you engage parents in the value of daily outdoor provision for their child?
  • What opportunities can you find at all stages of your communication with parents to help them understand your approach?

Parents may be understandably concerned about the risks of their two year old playing adventurously, and having daunting or scary feelings.

  • How can we help parents understand the value of such rich learning experiences and how they are managed in the setting?