Rich Play Environment

A rich play environment is one where children and young people are able to make a wide range of choices; where there are many possibilities so that they can invent and extend their own play.

This could be any space or setting, either outdoors or inside, and may include:

  • local play areas
  • parks
  • play centres
  • staffed adventure playgrounds
  • out of school care
  • mobile play provision
  • playgroups and nurseries
  • schools

It is a varied inspirational and interesting physical environment that maximises the potential for socialising, creativity, resourcefulness and challenge. It is a place where children feel free to play in their own way, on their own terms.

Quality play provision offers all children and young people the opportunity to freely interact with or experience the following: 

  • other children and young people - with a choice to play alone or with others, to negotiate, co-operate, fall out, and resolve conflict
  • the natural world - weather, the seasons, bushes, trees, plants, insects, animals, mud
  • loose parts - natural and man made materials that can be manipulated, moved and adapted, built and demolished
  • the natural elements - earth, air, fire and water
  • challenge and risk taking - both on a physical and emotional level
  • playing with identity - role play and dressing up
  • movement - running, jumping, climbing, balancing, rolling
  • rough and tumble - play fighting
  • the senses - sounds, tastes, textures, smells and sights
  • feelings - pain, joy, confidence, fear, anger, contentment, boredom, fascination, happiness, grief, rejection, acceptance, sadness, pride, frustration.

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