This article reports the findings of a project funded by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, which explored the participation of children in out-of-school recreational activities. The experiences of children living in poverty were compared and contrasted with their more affluent peers. The aim of the project was to explore these out-of-school activities as sites of learning and to identify the impact of the children's experiences on the development of individual 'learning identities'. Through in-depth interviews with 55 children it was concluded that there were substantial differences in levels of participation and in the learning gained from these activities by two different groups of children, and stages in the development of their different dispositions towards the activities were shown. Attempts to identify the roles occupied by the children within a community of practice led the authors to question the extent to which the terms 'core' and 'periphery' can adequately account for the activity within such a community.