Playing with the Elements
Playing with the Elements

Course Details

The Playing with the Elements course specifically focuses on playing with the non-living elements of the natural world i.e. the Four elements of earth, Air, Fire and Water.

In this course, the concept of the Four Elements is used to represent:

  1. the make-up and physical features of outdoor play environments;
  2. themes for different types of activities and outdoor play experiences;
  3. symbols and concepts for the different ways in which children play outdoors and interact with the natural world.

Facilitating environmental play should not be limited to outdoor 'specialists' within the children's play workforce. Playing outside with natural elements should be a regular and ongoing aspect of supervised play for all children, in a wide range of settings, and as such is the responsibility of everyone who works to support their play.

With this in mind, the course aims to bridge the gap between your existing skills, tools and confidence and those needed to make the first moves in environmental playwork or to develop it further. Through the course structure, you will be able to identify and acknowledge your own specific areas for learning and development.

This Level 3 course is a 30 hour course, consisting of five sessions of 3.5 hours, then a final session of 4.5 hours, plus 8 personal reflective practice hours.

The session titles are:

  • Session 1 - Introducing the Elements
  • Session 2 - Earth
  • Session 3 - Fire
  • Session 4 - Water
  • Session 5 - Air
  • Session 6 - Mixing the Elements

Applicants need:

  • to have undertaken some playwork study at level 2;
  • to currently be working with children in a play setting;
  • to have undertaken training which includes the Playwork Induction Standard or similar.


Course Aims & Assessment

Aims of the course are to:

  • recognise the value and importance of children's outdoor play and interaction with natural elements;
  • enable direct experiences with each of the natural elements and explore practical elemental activity 'springboards' that can be adapted and modified to different settings;
  • provide knowledge, information and guidelines on the principles and best practice of outdoor playwork, including awareness of how to overcome specific barriers;
  • explore ways in which any play provision can be improved or added to in order to best facilitate elemental play outdoors;
  • introduce conceptual ideas about children's play through considering the importance and significance of the four natural elements.


To receive the full certificate for Playing with the Elements you must:

  • Attend 80% of the Playing with the Elements course
  • Actively participate in sessions
  • Complete assessments including a reflective course diary 
"Brilliant course, lots of fun and lots of good ideas that I can take away and try to put into practice"

Emily Larcombe

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