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Outdoor resources - Shardi Vaziri's favourite four

In this article, Shardi Vaziri, an educational consultant specialising in loose parts and sustainable provision on a shoestring, shares with us ways to use her favourite outdoor open-ended resources to develop gross motor skills as well as skills in other areas of learning.

Posted on Saturday 11th March 2023

TTS have a great range of outdoor open-ended resources which support the development of many skills including gross motor skills. Here, I have picked four of my favourites to give you some ideas of different activities that could be carried out.

Giant outdoor hollow blocks and building blocks

These giant outdoor hollow blocks are great for both inside and outside. My favourite thing about them is that they are hollow, and children can place other objects inside the hollow parts as part of their creation.

  • Children can build buildings using these as the main structure and then enhance them using small loose parts like conkers, as well as adding small world resources. This is great for collaborative work, developing narratives, negotiating design, and developing gross motor skills and ensuring the blocks balance.
  • Another idea for these could be to make an obstacle course with them for the children to complete themselves, or challenge their friends to complete. They would develop their maths skills by timing each other to see how long they take to complete the course. Adding wooden planks would be a great way to develop balance – no one wants to fall into shark infested waters!
  • Children could also develop their computing skills by programming a Beebot or another programmable toy to complete the obstacle course. They would need to test their algorithm ensuring the Beebot did not fall off the side of the blocks. They could then challenge themselves to record their algorithm for a friend to test.

Giant hollow outdoor blocks

Wooden Planks

I use these in my setting all the time both inside and out. They are a great addition to the crates, or hollow blocks as well as a great addition to small world set-ups.

  • Use these planks to enhance your sand or water trays. By balancing the planks across the tray, you add an extra dimension to the play. You can place pots and pans across the plank for the children to fill and empty in the water tray or use them for dinosaurs to walk across for a small world sand set up.
  • These planks are excellent ramps for vehicles in outdoor play. Children can experiment with ways to make their ramps steeper and time how long it takes their vehicle to reach the finish line. Wrap the planks in different materials such as sand paper, felt, or tin foil, to experiment with how different surface textures affect the speed of the vehicles.
  • As mentioned above, these are a great addition to obstacle courses. There is clear progression with using these planks in this way as the children can begin by simply placing the planks flat on the floor and practise walking along. Once they have mastered balancing, they can add challenge by adding gradients and height to their planks.


I love this jumbo guttering and channelling set as it is so versatile.

  • Children can combine more than one water tray and add this guttering set to create a connected water way where they can fill and empty the water watching it travel down the guttering into the next water tray. They could also do this without water, using balls such as ball pit balls like a large marble run!
  • Explore making marks by dipping balls in paint and rolling them down the gutter pipes to observe the marks made. The children can make their art permanent by pressing paper onto the guttering. Discussions around printing, symmetry, and colour mixing can extend this activity further.
  • When exploring habitats, a piece of guttering can be used as a river habitat by setting up a small world within the guttering. Children can explore the different animals found as well as observe water flow through a river.

Jumbo guttering and channelling set


These crates are a staple in any open-ended kit in the outdoor classroom.

  • The children can add these to their obstacle courses combining the hollow wooden blocks, wooden planks, and these crates, or use them alone.
  • They can be stacked to create an entrance to a den or cave and them combined with tarpaulin to create an enclosure. This is especially fun on rainy days! Huddling inside the den, watching and listening to the rain hitting the tarpaulin while reading a favourite book is a lovely activity to facilitate for the children.
  • Another idea, and this one is for us practitioners, is to use these crates as giant colanders at the end of the day! Put all the water play objects inside one of these at tidy up time and allow the water to drip out overnight so the objects are dry and ready to store the next morning.

Crates for dens

Learn more about our outdoor range

Thank you to Shardi for writing this blog

Shardi Vaziri is an educational consultant specialising in loose parts and sustainable provision on a shoestring. Contact her at and follow her on Instagram @earlyyearsonashoestring.