Taking a break from our Setting the Standards posts today for something a little Hands On!

Something we pride ourselves on at Stramash are our efforts towards true sustainability, particularly in our Outdoor Nursery settings. It informs our everyday practice and is a cornerstone philosophy in how we design and interact with our spaces and our people – all our children know the words to the ‘reduce, reuse, recycle song!

From an organisation wide stand point, operating as a social enterprise means applying commercial strategies to our organisation to best grow and succeed, then reinvesting our profits back into the organisation, our teams, places, apprenticeship and schools programmes, children and provision, for maximised positive social and environmental impact.

On a day to day basis in our settings, this means utilising any and all materials that might have reached the end of their original life, and repurposing them to add value to our space, learning & development opportunities for our children.

Two of our nursery settings started life as little more than a barren field. They were a far cry from the enriching and inspiring play spaces you would see if you visited today.

How did we get there? We planned, designed and built it…

With the children!

The learning opportunities are endless when planning and building semi permanent structures – and that’s before they even get round to playing on them!

  • Maths (measuring, forces, angles, weight, lateral thinking, mathematical problem solving, length, distance…)
  • Communication
  • Teamwork & community values – building for a shared experience & for the benefit of all
  • Language & literacy – discussing the movement of something, does it need to be higher? Is it low enough? Describing materials, actions, how sturdy it is?
  • Dynamic risk assessment – children learning how to observe, measure and assess risk and take responsibility for keeping themselves and each other safe
  • Gross motor skills
  • Fine motor skills
  • Tool grip and early hand writing skills/hand & arm muscle development
  • Spacial awareness
  • Mapping and designing
  • Creativity and imagination
  • Coordination
  • Problem solving
  • Resource & space sharing
  • Changes – how does the weather effect process or use
  • Attitude – self starter mentality – if our children want something they don’t just assume you have to buy it!
  • Self sufficiency – sustainability values
  • Adaptability
  • Resilience – if at first it falls down, try and try again!
  • Confidence & Self Esteem – process over product, completion of a task, pride in their efforts, important part of a team

I think i’ll stop there or I’ll be here all week!

Lets take a closer look at our semi permanent structures and how our children interact with them.

One of the great benefits of these structures is how truly open ended they are. Several play frames can be running simultaneously on the same structure; it might be a house, a vets, a rocket ship or provide a more utilitarian function all at the same time!


Whilst it may look a little ‘post apocalyptic’ these are inspiring play spaces, all the way from the planning and building to daily use.

We know it can be a bit intimidating starting from scratch or introducing this type of resource or activity to your setting. I struggled with a flat pack book case before learning from my experienced team!

Which is why we wanted to share our skills with a wider audience and have designed a CPD course tailored around creating exciting and engaging play spaces in the outdoors environment.

It hasn’t been released yet (and I’m probably not supposed to tell you about it!) but as we get emails most days specifically about this very issue, it makes sense to provide something tangible to help people seeking info on temporary structures and loose parts play…and to let you guys know that its on the way!

If you’d like more info or to register your interest please complete the webform below.



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