Out to Play

Out to Play is a creative outdoor learning project in which Drama Artists collaborate with partner primary schools and nurseries to explore and promote the role of Drama, Storytelling and Creativity in Outdoor Learning. The project seeks to facilitate interaction with the natural world through quality artistic experiences, re-thinking traditional views of nature and noticing and appreciating nature within built-up city environments. Sessions are tailored to the unique surroundings of each school, and through imaginative play and adventurous learning, Out to Play aims to deepen young people’s connection to our natural world.

Following on from the successful Out to Play pilot project in 2015, winner of the Glasgow City Council Environmental Initiative Award 2016, Eco Drama delivered a full scale project spanning 4 project years 2017-2021, supported by the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation amongst other funders. Due to ongoing interest and demand, Eco Drama is continuing to deliver Out to Play throughout 2022-2025. If your school would like to book a residency or CPD session during this time, please get in touch.

Out to Play is particularly focused on engaging with children and young people who experience socio-economic challenges, and by reaching them in the school environment, this improves their access to quality arts and outdoor experiences. Each school or nursery works with a Drama Artist for a 5 week outdoor learning residency, connecting children and young people with the natural world through quality creative learning experiences delivered in school playgrounds.

Out to Play has a strong Continued Professional Development (CPD) element for Teachers and Early Years Practitioners.  The project is designed to ensure a lasting legacy with the advancement of staff knowledge, confidence and skills, empowering teachers to deliver arts-based outdoor learning and play for many years to come and have ‘Out to Play’ sessions become part of their school’s weekly timetable.

Watch the Out to Play documentary which includes first hand testimonials from teachers:

Out to Play with Eco Drama from Eco Drama on Vimeo.

Project Background

Here are some headline achievements from 2015-2022:

– Almost 8,000 pupils have participated in Out to Play creative outdoor learning residencies across 71 primary schools, nurseries and complex support needs schools in Glasgow, with thousands of sessions delivered to date.  The project has also reached approx 800+ settings across Scotland (and the world!) through CPD sessions, Early Years CPD Webinars, Out to Play days, including delivering at Aberdeen’s Arts Across Learning Festival.

– Over 2,000 Teachers, Early Years Practitioners and Educators have participated in Out to Play residencies and the associated Out to Play CPD workshops, which share the Out to Play approach and develop knowledge, confidence and skills in embedding drama, storytelling and creativity within outdoor learning and play.

– Since the 2015 pilot project in primary schools, Out to Play has developed and expanded every year. 2018 included the development of the Early Years strand in nurseries; in 2019-20 we developed to include schools for children with complex learning needs. In 2020, we were meant to develop the project for delivery with S1 secondary school pupils, but due to covid-19 this became a digital arts and climate change project Future Calling.  Eco Drama were fortunate to continue delivering Out to Play residencies in primary school playgrounds throughout the covid19 pandemic when schools were open, as well as delivering Out to Play CPD workshops with teaching staff.

– The project has produced 3 Resource Packs for teachers, nursery and education practitioners – the first edition Out to Play Resource Pack,  a second edition pack ‘Let’s Go…Out to Play!and an Early Years Resource PackOver 1,500 copies to date have been delivered in countries right across the world, including many European countries, Canada, the USA and as far as Australia and New Zealand!

– In March 2021, all 236 nurseries in Glasgow received a copy of the Early Years Out to Play Resource Pack alongside the opportunity to participate in Eco Drama’s Early Years Out to Play CPD webinar during April – June 2021, supported by Glasgow City Council. Read more.

– Glasgow City Council Early Years Department have commissioned further Out to Play Early Years CPD delivery throughout 2021 & 2022, with Out to Play in a Day sessions, Out to Play Mini Residencies and CPD Webinars reaching nurseries and hundreds of practitioners across the city. Read more.

– The project has a bank of drama artist blogs which provide ideas and inspiration for anyone leading creative sessions for children and young people outdoors.

– Evaluation carried out one year on from each residency demonstrates that collaborating schools are now doing more outdoor learning, with ‘Out to Play’ sessions becoming part of schools regular timetable, and there is also an increase in teachers using drama and storytelling within their practice.

– And finally, during the 2015 residencies, pupils planted their own ‘Living Stage’ and watched it bloom into the theatre production Uprooted which reached 1,364 children and adults over 31 performances in public venues and festivals across Glasgow, eventually returning to the schools for pupils to watch the production in their playgrounds. The Living Stage was then replanted into one of the school playgrounds, transforming a grey fenced area into an imaginative and unique garden play space.

Please see the Further Info sidebar to access comprehensive reports on Out to Play 2015-2021, including the final report charting the full 4 year project 2017-2021.

Out to Play 2021-23 is gratefully supported by the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, Glasgow City Council Communities Fund, Glasgow City Council and Coop Local Community Fund.  Please see our Supporters section for previous project supporters.


“Ben has inspired me with lots of activities and stories – he has planted a seed and I look forward to implementing projects next season… I have loved being a part of Out to Play and the children have absolutely loved it also!” Jilly Moffat, Teacher Aultmore Park Primary

A wonderful experience for the children and myself. A fresh look on how to develop Outdoor Learning in a more creative manner. Fantastic experience. I have learned so much from Ben. His nature and good humour with the children have been lovely to observe – thank you!” Tommy Hynes, Corpus Christi Primary

I think regular time outdoors encourages children to be creative and explore. I will definitely keep the routine going next year. Really enjoyed the experience. Loved the stories. Ben was great! This has been very worthwhile.” Patricia O’Keefe, Teacher St Vincent’s Primary

“The project introduced the children to some very important messages and I think that it did this in an accessible and natural way. I particularly enjoyed the use of storytelling and think that this is something I can use.” Sam Harte, Teacher Balornock Primary

I hadn’t realised the power of imagination within outdoor learning.” Irene Boyle, Corpus Christi Primary

“A fantastic way to encourage children to become explorers of the world.” Deborah Reid, Merrylee Primary School

“The pupils gained a greater appreciation of the school setting, their surroundings and nature… when talking about limas in class the other day the children spontaneously broke out into the Awongalema song. This was five weeks after Ben had told them the story at the first sessions which shows that it has really stayed with them.” Annabel Adamson, Dalmarnock Primary School

“Having the opportunity to work alongside such an experienced storyteller has been wonderful. I’ve now got loads of practical ideas to bring into the class and extend/continue to use outdoors… I’ve been really impressed by the way the children have engaged in every session. I’d be crazy not to continue the fantastic energy and enthusiasm.” Maya Candido, Battlefield Primary School

“I have gained openness to taking children outside for outdoor learning which will stay with me for the rest of my career.” Annabel Adamson, Dalmarnock Primary School

Pupils thoughts…

“I have learned about nature and how it works. It was very fun too!! Thank you for taking us outside, I learned so much.” Eni, P7 Pupil Corpus Christi Primary School

“Thank you for teaching us. This program has made me aware of nature and made me more confident and happy” – Aini, P6 Pupil St Vincent’s Primary School

“I really enjoyed the adventures!” P3 Pupil, Aultmore Park Primary School

“Before I never liked going out to play. Now I love out to play.” Lee, P4/3, Chirnsyde Primary School

“I go on adventures more through forests cause Sophie inspired me. I think about outside a bit differently now.” Marcus, P7, Chirnsyde Primary School

“I liked the stories and games because it was really fun and the stories were amazing!” Daniella, P4a, Battlefield Primary School

“I loved it because nature is what is inside me. Thank you for everything. It has been a delight.” Leona, P4 Pupil, Balornock Primary School