Store your resources in your very own folder.

Sign in or sign up today!

Find out more

Play the game

Add to My Folder

This content has not been rated yet. (Write a review)

By Tracey Godridgewriter with the National School Grounds Charity Learning through Landscapes

Get the children active and enjoy this exciting selection of outdoor games

Fun and games

Allocate a large, open space outdoors for the children to safely take part in high-energy active games, and in which they can fully absorb themselves in the play. Playing outside provides an opportunity for height as well as breadth, and physical activities need lots of space.

child with football

Consider uneven ground, mounds, changes in levels and gradients, as well as surfaces other than tarmac or paving, such as grass, bark and muddy areas, to provide opportunities for the children to learn new physical skills. Make stretches of paving, tarmac or grass more interesting by using chalk or cones to mark out runways or balancing lines.

Use moveable boundaries such as traffic cones, plants in containers, or chalk lines to change the layout of the area, depending on the activity.

Suggested resources

Chalk; ropes; tractor and car tyres; planks; logs; milk crates; buckets; rope; pulleys; trolleys; suitcases; bags; baskets; different-sized balls; beanbags; chalk; scarfs; ribbons; bubbles; maypole or central feature to dance round; plastic tunnel or barrel.

1 Over, under and through

Follow an obstacle course

Physical Development

Movement and Space

Development matters: move freely with pleasure and confidence in a range of ways, such as slithering, shuffling, rolling, crawling, walking, running, jumping, skipping, sliding and hopping (30-50 months); experiment with different ways of moving (40-60+ months).

Early learning goal: move with control and coordination.

What you need

Group size: small groups.

A variety of sturdy, outdoor play equipment such as crates and planks for climbing over and walking along; expandable tunnel or barrel for crawling through; tyre to jump in and out of; chalk for marking balancing lines; paper plates for stepping-stones; slide or climbing frame.

What to do

Arrange the play equipment into an interesting and challenging trail for the children to follow, incorporating existing features such as a slide or climbing frame.

Show the children where the obstacle course starts and where it finishes. Tell them that the grass/tarmac/paving is the sea and they need to get from the beginning to the end of the obstacle course without getting their feet wet.

Encourage the children to say which parts of the course they liked best, and which they found easy and difficult. Let the children take turns to suggest ways in which the obstacle course could be changed or adapted in order to make it easier or harder.


Help the children to explore ways of negotiating their way through the different obstacles.


Tell the children that when you put your hands in the air, it means there is a pirate ship coming and everyone must stand still so they are not spotted. When the ship passes by, put your hands down, and the children can carry on.

Birth to 36 months

Lay a broad plank across two or three milk crates for babies to pull themselves up to standing and older children to balance along.

Cross curricular links

PSED – be confident to try new activities, initiate ideas and speak in a familiar group.

PSRN – use everyday words to describe position.

2 Mr Bear’s cave

Build an exciting cave and take it in turns to guess who’s in there

Creative Development

Developing Imagination and Imaginative Play

Development matters: use available resources to create props to support role-play (30-50 months); play alongside other children who are engaged in the same theme (40-60+ months).

Early learning goal: use their imagination in art and design, music, dance, imaginative and role-play and stories.

What you need

Group size: small groups.

Copy of Let’s Go Home, Little Bear by Martin Waddell and Barbara Firth (Walker Books); materials to make a home-made tent such as old tablecloths, blankets, curtains, sheets, shower curtains, muslin, cardboard boxes, camouflage netting; props for frames such as clothes airers, rope and washing line that can be suspended between fences or low branches, milk crates; clips; pegs; elastic bands.

What to do

Share Let’s Go Home, Little Bear with the children. Let the children explore the resources and decide which material they would like to use to make their cave. Help them to find a suitable place to create their cave such as by the shed, under a bush, using the climbing frame and so on.

When the children have made their caves, invite a child to close their eyes while another child pretends to be the bear and hides inside. Suggest that the bear snores to let the other child know they can open their eyes and guess who the bear is.


Help the children to make the tent frames safe and choose appropriate materials to cover them.


Let the children kit out their caves with mats, rugs, blankets and cushions.

Birth to 36 months

Put up a pop-up tent and share a story inside it with the children.

Cross-curricular links

  • PD – handle tools and construction safely and with increasing control.
  • KUW – select the tools and techniques they need to shape, assemble and join materials they are using.

3 Ball of love

Find ways to get a ball from one person to another

Personal, Social and Emotional Development

Making Relationships

Development matters: feel safe and secure, and show a sense of trust (30-50 months); value and contribute to own well-being and self-control (40-60+months).

Early learning goal: work as part of a group or class, taking turns and sharing fairly, understanding that there need to be agreed values and codes of behaviour for groups of people, including adults and children, to work together harmoniously.

What you need

Group size: large group.

Large ball.

What to do

Ask the children to stand in a large circle. Explain that you would like them to share feelings of friendship with everyone in the group. Tell them that the ball is full of ‘love’ and that they should call out a person’s name, and then take, pass, roll or bounce the ball to them. If the ball goes astray, another child in the group can pass it back to the person it was intended for. Encourage the children to think about who in the group has not been given any ‘love’ yet, and to make sure that everyone is included and gets some ‘love’ passed to them.


Keep the game fun and help the children to send the ‘love’ to their chosen person.

Home links

  • Ask the children to bring in a photograph of themselves playing outdoors and make a display of outdoor games.

Further ideas

  • Give each child a copy of the ‘Stop and go’ activity sheet. Provide red and green colouring materials and ask them to make a red (stop) or green (go) traffic light. Place them next to the obstacle course and encourage the children to take turns to hold up a ‘stop’ or ‘go’ as the others go around the course.


Use other objects such as a bucket, beanbag, quoit and so on, and ask the children to think about how the ‘love’ could be sent.

  • Learning through Landscapes is the National School Grounds Charity, which aims to help early years settings and schools make the most of their outdoor space for playing and learning. To find out more, visit Learning through Landscapes or call 01962 845 811.

Birth to 36 months

Let two children roll the ball to each other.

Cross-curricular links

  • PRSN – use developing mathematical ideas and methods to solve practical problems.
  • PD – show awareness of space, of themselves and of others.