The ultimate early years activity guide – 49 outdoor and messy play ideas


Developed in partnership with childminder, Chloe Webster, of Pebbles Childcare.

Play – whether indoor, outdoor, or messy – underpins the entire early years education model. It plays a vital role in children’s development – helping them to build upon their language, emotional, social, and motor skills, along with their creativity, problem-solving, and physical health.

And when it comes to the warmer spring and summer months – and the weather is kind to us – it’s wonderful to get children into the great outdoors, exploring and channelling their curiosity through nature.

But, with so many activity combinations out there, how do you choose the best ones for your children?

We’ve teamed up with childminder, Chloe Webster – of Pebbles Childcare – to bring you ‘The ultimate early years activity guide’, which includes 49 outdoor and messy play activities for when the warmer months are upon us.

This easy-to-follow resource is laid out in a recipe-book format – with the ‘ingredients’ and ‘method’ – and aims to inspire early years practitioners and parents with fun-filled activities, that are perfect for facilitating children’s learning.

Play is a crucial element of development not only within the nursery or childminder setting, but in the home too, and we hope that you enjoy carrying out these activities with your little ones!

Activity eBook download

Here’s a sneak peek at five of our activities in this free download: 

Watering and guttering 

What you’ll need:

  • Guttering stands / crates
  • Guttering 
  • Buckets of water
  • Jugs
  • Cups
  • Large bowl / receptacle 


Depending on the age of the children, you could encourage them to create a run for the water to travel across into a bucket / tuff spot at the end – you could even create it with or for them! Place a bucket of water at the beginning of the run for the children to collect their water from.

outdoor play activities early years

Chalk and car city 

What you’ll need:

  • Jumbo chalks
  • Cars
  • A patio / or a black tuff spot


Provide the children with chalks, cars, and space to create and role-model how to draw roads, parking spaces, and trees etc. Then, add cars and blocks to create a town and develop their small world and imaginative play.


Obstacle courses

What you’ll need:

  • Hoops
  • Wooden planks
  • Balls
  • Chalk


Dependant on the ability of your children, build an obstacle course that will require them to move their body in a variety of interesting ways. If you do not have the space or resources to create a challenging obstacle course, you could even use chalk to make zig-zags, squiggly lines, and lines and balancing shapes for the children to follow – and provide them with different movements to do at each station. 


Scooter number recognition 

What you’ll need:

  • Scooters
  • Chalk


Draw large squares on a patio surface and the number 1-5 on each. Shout a number and encourage children to scoot their way into the corresponding number. 

Mud kitchen madness

What you’ll need:

  • Mud kitchen or large surface
  • Mud
  • Water
  • Bowls
  • Spoons
  • Cups
  • Herbs / spices


In the absence of a mud kitchen, provide children with a large surface surrounded with the ingredients and utensils and let them combine and create freely. Warning – it’s a messy one!