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.
Our quite the collection of Tonka cars. So much so that I decided to re-locate half of their collection to our outdoor classroom. Many of their Tonka cars are construction vehicles, which inspired me to create a construction play area for them.
Last year we built a mud kitchen for our children and it was wholly popular among our children and their friends. Lots of big time messy play went down at that mud kitchen. While we loved our old mud kitchen, it wasn’t very easy on the eyes. This year we decided to revamp the idea; build a new, more visually appealing mud kitchen.
What would an outdoor play space be if it didn’t have a sandbox?
We’ve had our share of sandbox phases throughout the years. When LittleMan was just an infant, not quite old enough to be trusted not to eat a handful of sand, we filled his paddling pool with colored rice and construction vehicles. After that we moved on to a small sensory bin of plain sand. Then a sensory bin of plain sand and water. As he gets older though, he has more of an interest in designing sand castles and digging elaborate tunnels. These activities require just the right sand mix so they don’t crumble apart.
A while back I was reading into what makes a outdoor space really welcoming for children and I noticed three main components that presented themselves quite a bit: loose parts for open-ended play, lots of opportunities to connect with nature, and some small spaces to hide away when they need a rest. I went through a lot of DIY playhouse plans and ideas before I settled on the teepee neighborhood.
In the hot summer months, playing with water is an excellent way to cool off, but I don’t always have the ability to fill up the paddling pools for them to have a dip. A water wall is a great compromise, a way to play in water and cool off, but without all the prep work and hassle of filling and emptying their pools.
Kids are noisy. Kids love being noisy. And outside is a great place for them to be as noisy as they want.
Which is why, for three years now, I have dedicated a portion of our outdoor area to having a music station.
It started off as a miniature music wall on our apartment patio, then a larger music wall in our backyard. Now we have expanded it even further.
Children love to plant gardens, and it is especially beneficial for them to do so. Unfortunately, plants can take an awful long time to grow and children are not known for their patience.
And I have learned the hard way that if you attempt to grow a garden with starter plants rather than seeds, the children might be tempted to dig them up and replant them frequently, which can cause root damage and undo stress to the plant.
In an effort to minimize the damage to our live plants, I created this pretend play garden for my children and their friends, and it has so far been a roaring success. (more…)
We’re in the middle of re-vamping our backyard and building a newer, better outdoor classroom. But that doesn’t mean we’re ditching all our old stuff. We had a ball area in our old outdoor classroom, but there was room for improvement.
My children, like many others, love climbing trees.
For that reason and more, I made it a priority to find a house that had a large backyard with lots of trees.
Unfortunately, while I found a number of wonderful homes, very few of them had trees.
And those which did have trees, didn’t have good climbing trees.
So I had to find another way to give my little thrill seekers the height they so craved.