Today’s experiment is super simple, frugal, and hands-on.
All you need is various soaps, water, and bubble wands.
One aspect that I really wanted to include in our outdoor small world play area was blocks.
But blocks can be quite pricey and I didn’t want to invest in something that might be damaged in the weather, misplaced during playdates, or even stolen from our yard.
Using blocks made of natural materials satisfies my children’s need to create as well as my need to keep costs low.
Plus, I found an excellent idea online to tie our block area into our geography lessons.
One of the things the children loved most about last year’s backyard make-over was the balance scale we made for them to play with.
Our original balance scale was created using an old clothes hanger, a couple empty soda bottles, and some duct tape. And while it worked well enough, I thought it was time to upgrade to something a little more visually appealing and also a little more durable.
When I first set off to build an outdoor classroom in our backyard, I asked my son what he would like to see, what he would find most useful. Among a few other reasonable requests, LittleMan asked if we could build a catapult.
Last year we installed a large abacus between two trees using pool noodles and, while useful, it was a bit too far from the hot-spots in the yard. So this year we’ve installed a smaller abacus nearer to the mud kitchen area.
One of the main staples of most any classroom is the board.
A chalk board. A dry erase board. There always seems to be some sort of board.
Teachers diagram concepts for their pupils. Students practice their sight words and solve large math problems.
All at the board.
Many older houses come equipped with clotheslines in the backyard. Our home is one such place.
The large metal pole cemented into the ground in the middle of our outdoor classroom was an eye sore for me to look at every day.
So I sat down and brainstormed up a few ways that we could take that eye sore and make it useful.
Small world play is an excellent tool in the development of well-rounded children. They act out stories they’ve read (or had read to them), they act out social situations and practice handling emotions, they make up their own stories and exercise their creative muscle.
Having an outdoor small world play area just adds to the benefits. The sensory experience of real plants and dirt, the fresh air and sun on their skin. No doubt about it an outdoor small world play area, or “fairy garden,” is a childhood must-have.
I try to waterproof as much of our outdoor materials as possible. I’ve even found ways of making water-proof books and board games that can be left out in all sorts of weather without being damaged. But there are other things that I’d rather not get left out in the rain. Things like chalk. Magnetic letters. Dress-up Supplies.
Pinwheels, besides being colorful and fun, can also be a great way to draw young children’s attention to things like weather, wind, and air.
Making pinwheels out of duct tape is super easy. Older children might enjoy making a few for themselves and their siblings.