Children love to spend time outside playing with friends and family, which is why having an outdoor area is vital for a family with younger children. It also becomes a designated space of their own to spend time in, making cleaning up easier for parents.
Creating this outdoor space can, however, prove to be difficult if you do not know where to start. Below are some simple tips and tricks to make this process easier and more enjoyable.
Before you go out and purchase expensive new toys and accessories for your kids outdoor play area, you should take stock of what you already have. Many household items can be upcycled into toys for children with little preparation, such as old pallet boards for sandbox edging, old watering cans and buckets for digging up sand and polystyrene cups for paint pots.
You can use kiddies pools for a sandbox if you do not wish to build one yourself, and you could use pebbles and stones from your own garden for games such as hopscotch. There is no end to the creativity that upcycling allows you, so the next time you are thinking of throwing something out, keep it and use it as something new.
Create space for active play
Active play is an integral part of a developing child. It contributes to both their physical and mental development , and so you should create a space for this in the play area. One idea is to install one or two jungle gyms in the space for safe and fun play.
Think beyond running and jumping and look into jungle gyms that offer climbing, sliding, swinging, balancing and more. Providing more than one activity option will increase their activity levels and physical skill sets. You should always ensure that every piece of play equipment is safe before installing it in your play area.
Include your garden
Setting up a play area in your front or backyard can go a long way to including your children in your gardening routine. It has been shown that children who participate in gardening regularly develop a proficiency for science, and are more likely to make healthier food choices when older.
Including your garden as part of the play area will show them that participating in gardening is a fun activity, not a chore. You could set up a vegetable patch for them to water, using the mud as part of their play or dot pretty flower pots around for use when making ‘delicious’ mud pies.
Create space for imaginative play
Children are experts at creating their own universes and stories, so it is important to create a space in the play area for imaginative play. You could create a fairy house for this area or even a cave for those pesky dragons. Think of a story that your children would enjoy and base this area on that.
A herb garden is the perfect spot for fairy figurines to be placed, and if you are DIY inclined you could create a wooden spaceship, a magical bus or even a lemonade stand for them to man when their friends visit. Children do not need a lot of items to create a fantasy world of their own, so providing only a few extras in the space can help.
Introduce secret spaces
Having a large jungle gym in the backyard is perfect for finding little nooks and crannies that can serve as extra secret space for your children to play in. You can also find an overhanging tree in your yard that creates a nice amount of shade for a small tent, perfect for those times when your child wants to hide away and relax.
Put up a small outdoor tent in an area that will not be heavily damaged by rain and put some soft furnishings inside. Your child will enjoy being able to hide away in their own private space, and can invite friends inside when they want to play quietly. You should ensure that all fabric is durable and suitable for the outdoors so as not to end up with wet, mildewed or sun-damaged items.
Designing an outdoor space for your children should be a fun and exciting experience. Be sure to include them in every step of the way, so they can tell you exactly what they want for their new space. An outdoor play area is the perfect space for developing bodies and minds, and should have as many elements of play as possible.