Keeping EYFS outdoor areas fresh and inspiring can be challenging, and as we know, variety is the spice of life! Regularly changing your EYFS outdoor area on a budget can be challenging. You want the children to be safe, excited to engage with the outdoor provision and for it to be inspiring… all without breaking the bank.
Are we asking for the impossible? Not at all. We have collated 11 of our favourite ideas for outstanding EYFS outdoor areas in your nursery. Helping you to jazz up your EYFS outdoor area on a budget.
What makes outstanding EYFS outdoor areas?
The EYFS statutory framework highlights that children should have ample opportunities to play indoors and outdoors. Utilising all seven areas of learning and development, your outdoor play area should encourage language development, communication and interaction, physical development, and lots more.
So, what factors make outstanding EYFS outdoor areas?
EYFS outdoor area on a budget: 11 ideas to try.
Your nursery provision needs inspiring and engaging outdoor areas for children to play in while ensuring they’re safe and the new areas can withstand the test of toddlers. Thinking of fresh ideas for your EYFS outdoor area on a budget can be tricky; we share 11 outdoor area ideas for your toddlers.
Early years outdoor area one: Zoom Zoom.
If your nursery outdoor space has any concrete, AstroTurf, or grass, it can be the perfect place to create a race track. Draw a winding race track for children to enjoy using temporary materials like chalk and more permanent spray paint. Enjoying push bikes, walking, or running, the children can transport themselves around the track in various ways.
Or scale down your race track and include a track for smaller toy vehicles. A creative idea we love is to paint race tracks onto a selection of flat stones. The children can then create their own length and direction and track difficulty.
Outdoor area idea two: Balance beam.
Planks and crates are inexpensive materials that can be made into exciting eyfs outdoor resources. Try attaching some small pieces of Astroturf onto the crates and place them in a line to create a bumpy, up-and-down obstacle course for children to play with.
Or connect the planks of wood (take care of splinters) and the crates to make walkways, cross fast-flowing rivers, avoiding stepping in lava or even teetering thousands of feet above the land.
EYFS outdoor area idea three: Reels of fun.
Large wooden spools or reels are spotted in most nursery outdoor spaces because they are versatile. If you have a nursery practitioner, or even a willing parent, handy with a paintbrush, your wooden spools can transform into something extraordinary. Here are some wooden spool ideas for EYFS:
Early years outdoor area four: Green fingers.
Recycled tyres are such a versatile piece of equipment when building your EYFS outdoor area on a budget. Car garages and mechanics will often donate used tyres for your nursery provision; it is helpful to build some connections with local garages. You may even want to spray paint the tyres colours that compliment your nursery brand colours and place them at the front of the nursery as planters.
Planting flowers and herbs can be a great sensory activity for your children, helping them to be a part of something that grows too. Try planting something simple like mint or watercress for the children to see the progress quickly.
Tyres (depending on their quality and size) can be suspended and used as a hanging swing or placed on the floor for many outdoor play activities. Here are some ideas on how to use a tyre in your nursery setting:
EYFS outdoor area ideas five: Take a seat.
Logs can be used for balancing, developing core strength and enjoying story time. They are inexpensive but a staple for nursery outdoor areas. Halved long logs can make excellent balance beams, whilst smaller, circular logs make great stepping stones. Why not try different heights and sized logs and create a stepping-stone trail? Can’t afford a purpose-made trim trail? Try making your own, save money and create an engaging EYFS outdoor area on a budget.
Logs are useful to assess children’s physical development in EYFS, monitoring their fine and gross motor skills.
Outdoor area idea seven: All aboard.
What do you get when you combine a pallet, some old steering wheels (or you can buy them relatively cheaply), some taller pieces of wood and cushions or old chair tops? A bus, of course!
We loved this outdoor area idea; thinking of exciting new communication and language EYFS activities can be challenging. This recycled bus for your outdoor area is a great way to spark conversation, develop imaginative play and join in with a small-group game.
EYFS outdoor area on a budget idea eight: Line them up.
Washing lines are useful for outdoor play; they can be used as a role-play area and a homemade abacus. Role-play for hanging the washing out may sound as dull as dishwater but is always surprisingly well-received. Using the pegs to hang the clothing or material strengthens the pincer grip.
Or create a homemade abacus with airflow balls and a washing line. Thread the balls onto the line and place the washing line away from any active areas for safety. The children will love moving the balls backwards and forwards.
Combining outdoor games with reading, you can use the washing line to implement early reading EYFS activities. Peg phonics sounds and blend to sound out words or order and sort numbers 0-10.
EYFS outdoor ideas nine: Water wall.
For a truly fantastic water wall for your EYFS children, you need a few funnels, some tubes and plenty of containers. Either attach the funnels and tubes to the existing wall or fix some wooden pallets together. You may want a trough at the bottom to catch the water. The children pour the water into the funnels via the containers, watching it run to the bottom. You can add a scientific element by making specific tubes more winding or longer to see how they impact the water.
Outdoor idea ten: Let’s get cosy.
Building shelters is a key concept of forest schools, using resources available to create cover from the wind or the rain. If your school cannot access forests, do not worry. You can implement many of the concepts outside in your EYFS provision. You can supply the children with a tarpaulin, some rope, and some posts to create their own shelter. You may need adult assistance for the fiddly parts of tying the rope, but the children can begin to make shelter for rain, wind and even sunny days.
EYFS outdoor area on a budget idea eleven: What do you see?
Encouraging children to sit and be present in nature and the outdoors is something we don’t often have time for. Or they won’t just ‘sit’. Try giving your children binoculars to help them notice the world around them, focus on the leaves in the trees, birds in the sky and even details of buildings around you.
Involving your nursery parents in creating your outdoor EYFS space is important. Share regular images and videos of the children playing in the space via your nursery platform to inspire parents to try something similar at home. You may be looking for donated clothing for your washing line, old tyres, or wooden reels; parents are often extremely willing to support your childcare setting if they can. Regularly share your upcoming themes for outdoor area play via your nursery newsletter; you never know what donated items your nursery community may have for you.