Outdoor Play and Learning Program

All children should be free to play outdoors during recess, lunch and after school, and should be provided with materials to explore their imaginations, their physicality, their friendships and the world around them. Earth Day Canada is working to bring a comprehensive play strategy to schools across Canada to support creative and diverse outdoor play experiences.

What is OPAL?

OPAL is the first program in Canada that aims to make play an integral part of the school day. Children engage in self-directed play with loose parts, integrating STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) education into recess, lunch, before and after school, and kindergarten play.

In partnership with the Toronto District School Board (TDSB), the OPAL program will roll out to 42 schools by 2020. Our goal is to bring the program to schools across the country.

OPAL is grounded in the child’s right to play and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, to which Canada is a signatory.

How does OPAL work?


A school board partners with Earth Day Canada, and convenes a lead team of teachers, parents and support staff to implement the program


OPAL mentors facilitate playdays, workshops, events and parent outreach, leading to the development of a school-wide play policy


“Loose parts” are introduced and strategic design improvements are made to prioritize play value for students


Program roll-out is evaluated and schools receive recognition with awards at a “celebration of play” assembly

Supporting better outdoor play at school

How to make Playtime Part of the School Day

Our partners at OPAL UK have some excellent tools and resourcess

Get in touch!

For more information on the Outdoor Play and Learning Pilot Program or to inquire about hosting a POP-UP Adventure Playground, please email play@earthday.ca or call Earth Day Canada at 416-599-1991 and ask to speak with a member of our Play team.

Brenda Simon

Director of Play Programs

Linda Naccarato

OPAL Project Director