Outside Play

An E-Learning Course to Support Healthy Outdoor Play for Children


Dr. M. Brussoni

BC Injury Research and Prevention Unit (BCIRPU)

The Digital Lab

Type of work

Software & Web
Digital Learning
Media & Animation

Outside Play is Critical for Child Development

The Digital Lab, Dr. M. Brussoni and the BC Injury Research and Prevention Unit (BCIRPU) partnered to develop the Outside Play website. Children form memories when playing outside with their friends, although this valuable developmental play is less common because of parent’s concerns over safety. Parents interfere with child development when they prevent their children playing in foreign environments, limiting not only exercise but increasing the likelihood that the child develops anxiety about being outdoors. “Risky play”, where children learn to take risks is important for development. Caregivers can utilize Outside Play to manage their worries and find a balance between supervising their children and allowing independent play.

Research & Design

An Interactive Learning Centre to Support Outdoor Play

The Outside Play website was designed by the collaborative team to act as a centralized hub for education that supports parents in encouraging their children to engage in safe and valuable outdoor play.  To ensure the platform meets the needs of its prospective users, parents, caregivers and early childhood educators were consulted in the development process. To help teach parents, caregivers, and early childhood educators about the importance of risk taking in child development, the website contains learning modules with interactive and animated videos to help users reflect on their child or students current lifestyle compared to their own as a child.

When utilizing the platform, users are taught to manage risky outdoor play scenarios with interactive animated videos that allow them to make choices about a child’s outdoor play and understand the different outcomes that result from their choice. For example, the user may be put in a scenario with a child climbing a tree where they must decide whether to observe or intervene. By engaging with these scenarios, users can recognize and grapple with common challenges in allowing outside play, and help them overcome them. These engaging activities also allow users to make an action plan with goals to support outdoor play.

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Promoting Safe Outside Play for Children

The Outside Play website was launched to support parents, caregivers and early childhood educators. Its educational material promotes children engaging in outside play which allows the children to develop in a healthy manner, while simultaneously minimizing caregiver stress. Within a year of the launch, the Outside Play website has received more than 45,000 page views, with over 5,000 users creating action plans to ensure their children can adventure outside safely. This open-access resource ensures children can explore the world outside, and develop critical skills such as planning, managing risks, developing social skills and building resilience.