Have you ever wanted to create an outdoor area at home for your kids??? One of our team members has created amazing outdoor play spaces in her work for years and she is sharing her advice and photos with us!
Start with what you have.
One of the easiest and quickest ways to begin creating a fantastic outdoor space is by using what you have on hand. Go through your kitchen and pull out any old utensils you don’t use, raid your old pots and pans, find pieces of fabric that are languishing in the back of the cupboard, check out the recycling bin for odds and ends and get busy!
Children love playing with things that are not traditional toys, So raid your local op shop, refuse centre or hardware store! Old tyres (washed) planks of wood, wooden pallets, cable reels, pipes, gutters, milk crates all can create a wonderland for children to play on! Check for safety, splinters or sharp edges, wash everything and have available for children to experiment with.
I know, I know, we are creating more work for ourselves here. But mess and sensory experiences are incredibly important for developing a child’s senses, their autonomy, and their self-confidence! Have an area set aside specifically for messy play, dress children in old clothes and have warm water and wash cloths ready for the inevitable clean up. I encourage children to play with sand, water, dirt, mud, and paint!
Another super important aspect of childhood development is allowing children to take risks, we have a whole post on the whys of risky play here. Remember to be age appropriate with expectations and let your child go for it! They will learn so much from being given time and space to test their capabilities.
As parents it is up to us to engage with our children and be involved in their growth and development. There are also times to step back and let your child discover things for themselves. Supervise and interact, but let your child take the lead.
My child won’t play on their own – be nearby and gradually take steps to move yourself out of the picture. Be involved in their initial play and then duck away for brief moments to run an “errand” -be back when you say you will and leave bigger gaps between your interactions. Teaching children to play on their own takes time. Especially if they’re used to you being with them all the time.
My child doesn’t like messy, sensory play – A lot of children don’t! Have the opportunity to be a little bit messy available and gradually expose them to more of it. Don’t push them to it, but let it slowly become part of their play. Lots of children that don’t like messy play enjoy “cleaner” alternatives like play dough. Our recipe is here.
I don’t have much space – Keep things to a minimum. Have a small area set up with things your child really loves and change it regularly to keep them interested. For really active outdoor play visit local parks and playgrounds.