Last Updated: Tuesday, December 13, 2022

Playtime Revolution – a resource from Grounds for Learning

What is this?

This resource explores how outdoor play in schools supports children’s learning and development, identifies a range of ideas for enriching play and shares practical advice from schools.

Who is this for?

​This resource is for anyone who has an interest in children’s wellbeing in an educational setting although it has been designed to be particularly relevant to support staff.

Each of the sections is accompanied by short notes, discussion questions and links to further useful resources. We suggest this resource is used collaboratively with colleagues to encourage discussion and planning about how to take some of these ideas forward in your establishment.

How to use this resource

This tool could be used as part of a staff training programme on improving playtimes, school grounds or developing outdoor learning. It could be delivered to the whole school learning community or used by an individual to inform practice.

This improvement tool includes video clips and questions that can be used with whole establishment teams to encourage discussion and deeper understanding. It offers simple and effective ideas for improving outdoor spaces for children and young people.


All video resources are available on the Learning through Landscapes YouTube channel.

1. The value of play in schools?

Play is one of the most basic of human behaviours - it is nature’s in-built mechanism for exploring, learning about and understanding the world around us. This video examines the value of play in schools.

2. The role of the adults

We often use the word ‘play’ to describe an activity that adults have organised for children, but the kind of play that we are looking at in this series is about what happens when you create a wide range of possibilities and then let children take control of their own activity. This video considers the role of the playground supervisor in helping free play to flourish.

Transcript: The role of adults (23KB)

3. Construction

To the untrained eye, loose materials might look like a pile of junk. But in the hands of imaginative children, these simple resources offer endless possibilities; from spaceships to Viking forts, from stormy seas to enchanted gardens. This video looks at how ordinary materials like logs, planks, crates and tarpaulins can be used to construct imaginative structures for play.

Transcript: Construction (24 KB)

4. Wet and wintry

We live in Scotland. Sadly, our famous weather means that children often don’t get out to play at school. But it doesn’t have to be this way. With the right clothing and positive support from staff, wind, rain and snow can be wonderful resources for outdoor play. This video explores the opportunities weather presents for imaginative play. 

Transcript: Wet and wintry (21KB)

5. Physical literacy

Physical literacy is the ability to move confidently in a wide range of physically challenging situations. With a bit of thought, play times can have a very significant role in developing physical literacy, complementing and supporting the PE curriculum. This video is about how children can develop and consolidate important movement skills and attributes through adventurous play. 

Transcript: Physical literacy (23 KB)

6a. Risk in play: The Berlin Story

Support staff often identify risk as one of the most significant challenges to providing free play. This section has two videos to view that look at risk from a benefit analysis perspective and exemplify how schools have managed risk within an adventurous play environment. 

Transcript: The Berlin story (25 KB)

6b. Natural play in schools

7. Water

Provide the opportunity for water play and you’ll find children naturally experimenting, engineering, measuring and problem solving. You’ll witness teamwork, creativity, physical exertion and a lot of fun. This video explores the perceived challenges to water play. 

Transcript: Water (22 KB)

8. Den building and hiding

Den building creates opportunities for intimacy, solitude, calm and reflection while stimulating imagination and socialisation as children become absorbed in fantasy worlds in their secluded spaces. Providing seclusion is quite counter cultural to how we normally manage our playgrounds, so this video focuses on how to provide these kinds of experiences in a way that ensures children’s safety. 

Transcript: Den building and hiding (23 KB)

9. Sand

We know from trips to the beach just how much children love playing with sand. They can build large structures, engineer watercourses or create more intimate landscapes suitable for imaginative or small world play. This video looks at how straightforward the experience has been for some schools and also reflects on important management issues to consider.

Transcript: Sand (23KB)

10. Small world

Children are universally drawn to creating their own miniature worlds using whatever materials and prompts come to hand. This video is about creating miniature imaginative play worlds using available materials. 

Transcript: Small world (23 KB)

11. Building support and keeping it going

Having watched these films, hopefully you’re now feeling inspired and have some ideas that you want to take forward. Like any change, developing play provision will benefit from some careful planning and thinking. In this final video, there is an opportunity to look at some simple ideas to help ensure success. 

Transcript: Building support (24 KB)


These resources have been created by Learning through Landscapes / Grounds for Learning

Contact details: Tel: 01786 465 934 Email:


PDF file: GfL film resource - Improvement questions (122 KB)