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Two Year Olds Outdoors – Tristan

Tristan is 2 years 4 months old: Here we see him with his mum,  playing in his garden and on a trip to the local park. We see his schematic explorations, the confidence he needs to explore the wider world and look at the language explosion that is happening at this age.

Good for looking at

  • Learning outdoors
  • COEL
  • Language and communication
  • Social and emotional
  • Physical
  • Imagination
  • Schemas
  • Pretend play
  • Effective adult support
  • Parents

Prompts for developing practice


Effective outdoor provision requires an ethos and vision, underpinned by a strong rational, that two year-olds must have access to the outdoors for plenty of time each day, every day of the year.

  • What issues would need to be addressed in a policy to help bring this vision about for your service?

Going for very small walks in the locality just beyond the home or setting are clearly of great value and importance for two year-olds. What enables or limits these in your provision?

  • How could organisation be changed to increase the amount that the locality and community are part of your outdoor provision?


In order for the world beyond the setting to be a routinely and frequently accessed layer of outdoor provision, suitable places need to be found and they need to be easily used.

  • Discuss the film sequences to decide what the important components of these two elements are and how this could be harnessed in your setting.

Tristan’s physical explorations show how important slopes, jumping-off places, clambering and uneven surfaces are for two year-old development. Often, providers feel they should remove all potential hazards, leaving just a ‘safe’ and flat surface, and safety is of course of paramount importance.

  • Use the film of Tristan and Skye to discuss the balance between benefit and risk.


If short walks into the locality and community are to be part of regular practice in a setting, the practitioners must know these places well, feel totally comfortable about taking children there and able to give the children enough freedom when they are there.

  • Discuss what makes this level of comfort possible.

For two year-olds to get the most from being outdoors, they need the close accompaniment of adults with a high commitment to the value of the outdoors who take great pleasure in being outdoors with them, and who see all weather as ‘good’ weather!

  • Discuss the various ways that the adults in this film show these commitments and dispositions.


A very strong feature of the success of Tristan’s experiences outdoors is the slow pace and room for following his interests and ideas.

  • How can we help parents to see the value of just ‘mooching’ with their child in simple outdoor places, finding time for ‘slowliness’ and gentle conversation?

Mud is clearly a wonderful and fascinating material, but dirt and germs as a health concern is a difficult issue which has to be carefully discussed within the team and with parents.

  • How do we enable two year-olds to explore in a safe enough way? Is dirt okay for two year-olds and where is the line (see notes for Laila regarding the ‘hygiene hypothesis’)?


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