Out to Play

Out to Play is a creative learning project in which Drama Artists collaborate with partner primary schools and nurseries to explore the role of Drama, Storytelling and Theatre 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 on our doorstep. 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 25 primary schools and nurseries within disadvantaged areas across Greater Glasgow.  Each school or nursery will work with a Drama Artist for a 7 week outdoor learning residency, with the whole school participating.

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

Out to Play 2017 will take place in Chirnsyde Primary, Dalmarnock Primary, Battlefield Primary and Merrylee Primary between August and December 2017, reaching over 1400 children and young people and 54 class teachers. Over the 4 years, Out to Play, along with new theatre production The Whirlybird, will reach approximately 14,700 children, young people and teaching staff across Greater Glasgow.


Project Background

Here are some headline achievements from the 2015 pilot project:

– 283 Pupils across 4 primary schools took part in a 13 week creative outdoor learning residency with Drama Artist Ben Mali Macfadyen from March – June 2015.

– Teachers had the opportunity to co-lead sessions with the Drama Artist, and lead their own sessions, utilizing new skills in combining drama, storytelling and outdoor learning.

– During the residencies, pupils also 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 collaborating 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, unique garden playspace.

– 4 Out to Play CPD Workshops were delivered to the wider community of primary school teachers across Glasgow, with 93 teachers in attendance. These sessions shared best practice from the residencies and offered ideas and creative learning techniques on embedding drama and storytelling within outdoor learning.

– The Drama Artist Ben 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 from the residency and a copy was given to the 93 participating teachers at the CPD Workshops.

– All 2015 collaborating schools are now doing more outdoor learning on a regular basis, with an increase in teachers utilising drama and storytelling within their practice.


“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 School

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

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

“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

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

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