Understanding the World

Child-led Play: Outdoor Exploration

Daisy found her shoes and stood by the door to the garden, gesturing to me that she wanted go outside. It was time to go out into the garden for some ‘child-led’ play so I needed to put my shoes on too.

Stirring and Chattering

In the garden, Daisy first found a long bamboo cane and walked around occasionally prodding at different surfaces. This cane proved too long and unwieldy and was discarded as Daisy seized on a short pea stick and repeatedly pushed that into a flower pot of old wet compost, examining the results of her ‘stirring’. There followed some more prodding in the flower bed and some watering with her small watering can. Daisy then moved on to picking some of the pebbles from the top of a potted plant and sharing them with me, chattering about them as she handed them to me.


I’m watching my granddaughter all the time and occasionally chatting with her about her investigations, but never trying to guide her play. She’s really busy and I don’t want to interrupt her explorations however messy they get!

We had recently pulled swede plants and they were laying on the lawn. Daisy spotted them and was curious. This was her first opportunity to look at a complete plant from leaves to roots. A delight for her senses.


As grandparents we continue to encourage Daisy to explore outside in different weather and at different times of the year. We have a garden for Daisy to investigate but exploring outside need not be limited to your garden. There are plenty of outdoor opportunities available for child-led play on walks, in woods and parks.

This website www.nature-play.co.uk/child-led-play is full of details and advice about child-led play outside.

Granny Smith Says

  • Try to ‘hang back’ while your grandchild investigates.
  • Keep talking about what they are seeing, hearing and touching.
  • Take care with sticks and canes.
  • Always wash hands after exploring.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s