Outdoor play- a Blog post, inspired by The Faerie Tailor exhibition at Riverbank Arts Centre, Newbridge

Have you heard about the Fairie Tailor exhibition? It is a journey into tiny, magical worlds created by artist, Emily Bazeley, and is full of natural materials, found in places where you would not expect to find faerie inspiration.  This magical world is one where the more you look the more you see, be enchanted by dwellings, costumes made from natural materials. 

This enchanted world is available to see now until Sunday December 21sthttps://www.riverbank.ie/event/visual-art-the-faerie-tailor/

Find endless inspiration here for Small World Play with natural materials for children in your services or your own children.

Small world play is an important experience for young children, helping them to develop language and imagination, (see Early Childhood Ireland bog post on this subject: https://www.earlychildhoodireland.ie/small-world-play/). Not only does this exhibition provide inspiration for such play, it also inspires outdoor exploration!

Think for a moment about the importance of outdoor play...

Outdoor play is a simple solution to overcoming the increase in nature-deficit disorder coined by Richard Louv in his book Last Child in the Woods (2005), by encouraging children to go outside and spend time in their natural environment, while also tackling the growing problem of child obesity. Children who play outside are also less likely to get sick, to be stressed or become aggressive, and are more adaptable to life’s unpredictable turns (Louv, 2005)

Consider your childhood, where did you play outdoors? Now consider all the knowledge, life skills, memories, and affinities you were accumulating as you played naturally. As you played independently you learned how to conquer or manage your environment, make and keep friends, assess and take risks, all the while developing affinity with places and spaces that hopefully have stayed with you to this day.

The Early Years Regulations 2016 (https://www.gov.ie/en/publication/1a6d67-child-care-act-1991-early-years-services-regulations-2016/) state that children in part-time or full day care services should have access to the outdoors on a daily basis, weather permitting. We would say children should be outdoors on a daily basis, regardless of the weather, as long as they have the appropriate clothing. In Ireland, there has been continuous news coverage recently of the alarming growth of obesity in Irish children from the latest results from the ongoing ‘Growing up in Ireland’ study which showed that 26% of nine-year-olds in Ireland are either overweight or obese (https://www.growingup.ie/).

Some children will take part in activities more enthusiastically, and show greater confidence in the outdoor environment.  Ideally the outdoor play area should be directly connected to the indoor area providing ease of access.  (NCCA, 2009).

Open ended materials used in such a creative way as the Fairie Tailor display allows children’s imagination to thrive and be filled with the wonder of the world.


The Tusla QRF for full day care services states that :


The Faerie Tailor might help us add creativity and imagination to our outdoor areas in a way that helps children’s imagination to be drawn into this Fairie land. For more information, go to: https://www.riverbank.ie/event/visual-art-the-faerie-tailor/

A recent survey by Early Childhood Ireland and the Institute of Technology, Sligo has also shown that parents value play but that 88% of children play outside less in winter and 74% of children don’t get to play outside when it is raining.  Outdoor play is one of the best learning environments for young children, providing exploration and discovery of one’s self, of others, and of the environment on a grand scale. Children learn through play, movement, communication, and sensory experience which the outdoors provides for on a much greater scale than indoors. (see Gallager, O. A Survey of Unstructured Outdoor Play Habits among Irish children: A Parents Perspective, https://www.academia.edu/24472363/A_Survey_of_Unstructured_Outdoor_Play_Habits_among_Irish_children_A_Parents_Perspective)

Children who play outside are also less likely to get sick, to be stressed or become aggressive, and are more adaptable to life’s unpredictable turns (Louv,2005). So- no more excuses, let’s get outside and play!!