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 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 28 primary schools and nurseries within disadvantaged areas across Greater Glasgow.  Each school or nursery will work 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 more than 6,000 children and 700 teachers with tailored arts-based outdoor learning experiences and teacher CPD workshops.

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.

Project Background

Here are some headline achievements from the 2015 and 2017 projects:

– 1,721 Pupils across 8 primary schools have participated in Out to Play creative outdoor learning residencies.

244 Teachers have participated in the residencies and 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.

– 2015 Drama Artist Ben MacFadyen created an Out to Play Resource Pack showcasing 8 session plans developed during the Out to Play residencies. This 72 page resource is packed full of tried and tested outdoor drama ideas, stories, games and creative outdoor learning techniques. Copies have been distributed to all participating teachers.  2017 Drama Artists Sophie McCabe and Ben MacFadyen have also created a 2nd Edition Resource Pack, available in autumn 2018.

– 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 playspace.

– Evaluation carried out one year on from the 2015 project demonstrates that the collaborating schools are now doing more outdoor learning on a regular basis, with an increase in teachers utilising drama and storytelling within their practice.

Please see Further Info to read comprehensive reports on Out to Play 2015 and 2017.

Out to Play 2018-19 is supported by Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, Ernest Cook Trust, Gannochy Trust, Pump House Trust and several smaller funders. Please see our Supporters section for full details.


“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