Get Outside and Play Early Childhood Network


ACEE initiated this program in 2014 and it has been a great success! The Get Outside and Play Early Childhood Network in Alberta is now its own organization outside of ACEE. You can find more information at or by contacting Christina Pickles at

Read more about this program below.


Our Vision

We have created a movement of passionate individuals – from sectors that include health care, environmental education, play, sport, recreation and parks, child care, and early childhood development – who will work collaboratively towards the following vision:

All young children, 0-5 years old and their families in Alberta have the opportunity for active outdoor nature play that is safe, positive and engaging. Active outdoor nature play in the early years:

  • Builds a foundation of nature connection that develops life long environmental literacy and stewardship
  • Sparks natural curiosity, exploration and learning.
  • Connects young children and their families with their communities, contributing to family resilience and social connections.
  • Improves physical literacy and general health outcomes

Get Outside and Play Early Childhood Network focuses on:

  1. Early Learning and Care.  Children in early learning and care settings have engaging outdoor spaces that encourage nature connection and outdoor play. Educators are trained and confident, able to facilitate and support children in their learning outdoors.
  2. Families and Communities. Nature connection and outdoor play are widely celebrated and valued in Alberta. Children and families spend more time connecting with nature and participating in outdoor play because engaging spaces and supportive programs are in place.

Every year we refine our work and update our Theory of Change. Download the latest version here.


Members of the Initiative

There is no membership fee or commitment, anyone is welcome to sign up for out to the network! Almost 900 people have engaged in the network with more joining all the time. Interested in learning more, visit and receive information about upcoming events and opportunities.

In the fall of 2016, we conducted a member survey to seek feedback on the direction of the network and ideas for professional learning. See the summary of the results here.


Sponsor and Funders

This program has been supported by the following organizations through in-kind product donations and financial contributions. Thank you to all our funders and sponsors for making this program possible.







In the news

Stettler celebrated Get Outside and Play Week with a community amazing race - Stettler Independent, June 3, 2017

Getting kids to Play Outside is a 21st Century Challenge - Calgary Herald, June 1, 2017

Outdoor play is celebrated during Get Outside and Play Week - CTV Morning Live, May 25, 2017

Calgary Kids Signing up for Forest School Program - Calgary Sun, May 2016

No Matter the Weather Demand for Forest School Soaring - Calgary Herald, May 2016


Click the headings below to see a brief summary of activities

If you have any questions, please contact Christina Pickles at or 403-998-4782.

2014 - 2015

December 8, 2014 Calgary  

Over fifty individuals from over 35 organizations met on December 8, 2014 for the first meeting of the Get Out and Play Network at Winsport.

Download the program summary here.

April 15, 2015 Calgary

The attendees at this second Get Out and Play meeting spent time refining the goals of the network and also considered some ways to move forward.

Download the one page summary here.

December 1, 2015 Calgary and December 3, 2015 Edmonton

35 people gathered at Ralph Klein Park in Calgary and 30 people came together in Edmonton to begin building the network through conversations and commitments to action. In the morning we discussed the following questions:

Why are you personally committed to getting more young children and their families outside to play?
How might we work together to increase the number of young children getting outside to play?

In the afternoon, two facilitators from the North American Association for Environmental Education lead us through the Early Childhood Environmental Education Programs: Guidelines for Excellence.


2016 Summary

In 2016 we:

  • Hosted 5 workshops professional learning sessions for early childhood educators:
    • Growing up Wild Training and Network Workshop - Edmonton
    • Physical Literacy and Nature Play Workshop - Red Deer
    • Natural Playgrounds and Network Workshop - Calgary
    • Risky Play Workshop - Calgary
    • Introduction to Forest Workshop - Calgary


  • Engaged 193 early childhood educators
  • Met with key organizations and individuals in the early childhood education community in Alberta to build relationships and seek partners for collaboration.


2017 Summary

In 2017 we:

  • Engaged 637 early childhood educators
  • Delivery 19 professional learning sessions
  • Visited 8 different communities in Alberta with these workshops


We delivered or hosted the following workshops:

  • Burr Its Cold Outside - Webinar
  • Outdoor Play Space Assessment Tool - Calgary and Edmonton
  • Coyote Mentoring - Calgary
  • Backdoor Physical Literacy - Outdoor Play in the Backyard - Delivered to dayhome providers in communities across Alberta


Get Outside and Play Week 2017

  • 2600 children
  • 500 adults
  • see the next section for more details.



Get Outside and Play Week 2017

Now that I see how easy it is and how much fun my daughter is having, I could totally do this at home with my children!

                    - Mom at the Mud Day Get Outside and Play community event

By the Numbers

  • 27 public events in 12 communities in Alberta
  • 32 private events in 13 communities
  • 69 families registered activities from 19 communities
  • 1 launch event attended by 200 parents and children
  • 2600 children engaged
  • 500 adults


This was the first year for Get Outside and Play Week – a province wide celebration of outdoor play in the early years May 27-June 3, 2017. We had many successes and learning opportunities along the way and are looking forward to hosting this event again in spring 2018.


Get Outside and Play Week is the public facing, awareness raising component of the Get Outside and Play Early Childhood Network. Having a week focused on outdoor, active play in nature can jumpstart outdoor play for families and early childhood educators and begins to create community relationships and connections that encourages, supports and normalizes outdoor play for young children and their families. 


We truly enjoyed the Get Outside and Play Week - and it was a good jumpstart to enjoying the summer outdoors.

                                          - Christen Bensen, family participant