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 and Storytelling 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 are now delivering a full scale project spanning 4 project years 2017-2021, collaborating with approximately 28 primary schools and nurseries across Greater Glasgow.  Out to Play is particularly focused on engaging with children and young people who experience socio-economic challenge, and by reaching them in their 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.  The project is estimated to reach around 5,000 children and 600 teachers with tailored arts-based outdoor learning experiences and teacher CPD workshops by 2021, and due to ongoing interest and demand, Eco Drama will now continue delivering Out to Play for a further two years from 2021-2023.

Out to Play has a strong Continued Professional Development (CPD) element for Teachers and Nursery Leaders.  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 for many years to come and have ‘Out to Play’ sessions become part of their school’s weekly timetable.

Watch our 2018 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 2015-2020:

– Over 4,000 Pupils have participated in Out to Play creative outdoor learning residencies across 25 schools in Glasgow. 5 schools across Scotland have participated in Out to Play days, including at Aberdeen’s Arts Across Learning Festival.

Over 550 Teachers and Nursery Practitioners have participated in Out to Play residencies and the associated Out to Play CPD workshops, which share best practice from Out to Play and develop knowledge, confidence and skills in embedding drama and storytelling within outdoor learning.

– Since the 2015 pilot project in primary schools, Out to Play has developed and expanded every year. 2018 included delivery in nurseries, and in 2019 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.  However, Eco Drama were fortunate to continue delivering Out to Play residencies in 3 primary school playgrounds throughout autumn/winter 2020, as well as delivering Out to Play CPD workshops with teaching staff.

– 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.

– 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 Pack.

– 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 enticing and unique garden play space.

Please see the Further Info sidebar to read comprehensive reports on Out to Play 2015-2019, and the final report charting the full 4 year project will be available in March 2021.

Out to Play 2020-21 is gratefully supported by Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, Scottish Children’s Lottery, Bank of Scotland Foundation, Glasgow Centre for Population Health, Education Scotland, Swinton Paterson Charitable Trust, Coop Local Community Fund and the Educational Institute for Scotland. 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