Whether at home or in an early education setting, providing thought, space and resources for your children is always necessary. The seven tips below will give you ideas for creating a play area for young children.
1. Build a playground for active activities
An active play area, a circuit space, as well as some toys that encourage different ways of getting around are very important for children. They can stimulate them to be physically active every day or at least on weekends..
Think beyond just running and include facilities to encourage participation in various activities. These could be: climbing, jumping, swinging, sliding, rocking, twirling, crawling, sneaking or any combination of these movements.
The equipment for these activities could be a permanent prefabricated installation. It would then be a slide, a swing or a trampoline purchased from vendors specializing in outdoor recreation.
But the most gifted parents, with a little imagination, can also make simply homemade installations for their children. It could be a cardboard car or train that children play with in the garden for hours.
To build a play area for outdoor activities one could use loose equipment like hoops, jump ropes, balls, bicycles or scooters.
We could make a balancing rig out of old car tires and wooden planks.
Some other ideas with your used tires …
2. Build a play area for sensory activities, make a mess
Adding space and tools to play in the sand, as well as water and mud will make you popular with the smaller family members. These cheeks may promote the child’s brain development. Children have experiences that activate their five senses: smell, sight, touch, taste and hearing.
Babies are born with brains full of neurons. Learning about the world through the five senses develops pathways between these neurons. The more the baby (and child) goes through one type of experience, the stronger this path becomes. The stronger the path, the easier it is for a child to learn about this part of the world, not just now but for life. Channels that are not used often will eventually disappear.
Make an enclosed space
And yes, these activities make a lot of mess. Some parents hate sand, finger paint, even plasticine, because they perceive them to be messy. With any sensory gaming experience, the trick to controlling clutter is to implement simple measures that limit the play space (and therefore the extent of the clutter).
Set up an activity on a hob or in a large tub, put a mess on the table or floor, or take it outside where the mess doesn’t matter.
Another better way to experiment in the garden – to cook. To be built with old pallets, beams, tires…. Then add small containers to hold sensory materials, as well as kitchen tools.
3. Build a play area for creative activities
Often in childhood the potential for creativity is put aside by adults with an emphasis on developing the intellect and learning more “academic” activities. What if, instead of seeing creativity as just an ‘art’, we redefine creativity as the ability to see and express yourself, the ability to find interesting solutions to problems, the ability to streamline a process to become more effective.
Children are creative individuals. Instead of stifling or harnessing their creativity in favor of the intellect, adults should embrace a child’s creativity as a way to engage them in play and learning.
Show your child that life isn’t just about getting the right answer. Equally important is thinking about new, better, or more creative ways of doing things. Children who learn these lessons are more likely to try new things and persevere in the face of difficulty.
Create a music wall or drawing board
Your choice of items for creating a creative play area in the garden will be influenced by your child’s preferences. Does he prefer music, art or construction, problem solving ?
A permanent installation like a music wall or an outdoor art board is great for stimulating your child’s creativity.
Another way to spend creative time in the garden is by taking things associated with indoor play outside. It’s amazing how the changing environment invites new ways to explore and interact, play and learn.
4. Build a play area of imaginative activities
Studies have shown that children who play role-play use descriptive and much more explicit language in their play. They thus develop a richer and more complex vocabulary..
Imaginative games promote emotional development. They help children develop empathy and consideration for others. In addition, these games allow them to express their own feelings and emotions, both positive and negative..
Create an imaginary world
A fairy garden, a bear cave, a pirate ship, a wildlife safari…. Look for ways to add imaginative play elements to your outdoor play area. This can be by adding small play figures in an enclosed space or by creating entire areas in the garden..
You can make a fairy garden among the plants that are safe for children. Adorn it with whimsical elements to spark all kinds of imaginative stories and adventures.
Imaginative play may require more prolonged play. Young children will engage and persevere in their play for longer.
5. Play safely with natural elements
It is so important to involve nature in our daily life and in the creation of games. Encouraging children to explore natural resources is a wonderful opportunity to promote curiosity and discovery through wonderful sensory experiences..
Natural materials provide a range of open play and learning possibilities, such as building, sorting, counting and role playing. The availability of some natural items, such as acorns and flowers, change with the seasons, while others, such as stones and branches, are available year round. It’s up to you and your child to choose.
Some natural elements:
• The sticks
• Wood bark
• Wooden cookies or tree blocks
• Herbs or other small plants
• Grass, shoots or seed plants
Make your garden
Designating a small part of the garden for the child is a perfect way to spend time outdoors. He can have fun planting plants on his own and then take care of them during the summer.
Involving your child in the care of your garden and teaching them how to find and safely handle the mini-forages that live there is important for their development..
Also consider adding stones, sticks, leaves, pine cones, seashells, seed pods and other natural elements to your garden.
Create objects with natural materials
You can use the natural materials to create patterns and designs with your children. The use of natural materials in arts and crafts is both ecological and economical.
Creating imaginative scenes, models and pictures inside the wooden frames is ideal for your children’s activities. Children can choose from a variety of materials to create different effects. They will be able to make small scenes of the world.
Use moss and other foliage to create a forest. Use sand for a seaside scene. You could even try real snow and ice. The frame really helps grab the children’s attention …
Look at the things your child picks up outside and think about how they could be used. Some materials are convenient to use as tools (for example painting), others could be decorated (with glitter or paint).
6. Build a quiet play area or secret space
How long a child plays independently with a game will be influenced by their age, development and interest in the activity. It is also important to what extent the child is used to having quiet time or to playing independently.
Quiet activities are great for kids who have stopped taking daily naps, but still need some time to rest. If you are unable to get them to rest for a bit, try quiet activities.
These are calm and simple activities. They don’t involve a lot of energy on the part of the children. Parents can sit with them and quietly engage a bit. Why not do them in the garden ?
Build a secret space in the garden
Children need suitable spaces on their own to build their own space. Places where they can feel safe from the prying eyes of adults, places to retreat and places to share with a special friend.
Having a quiet room designated only for the child allows him or her to choose to take quiet time. This will give him the opportunity to refresh his mind and body, which is especially important if he is no longer taking a nap. A quiet playground in the garden could help the child to concentrate. The child will thus succeed in acquiring skills to manage his stress.
A cabin, a fort, a teepee, a hammock under the trees, a bean hut or a sunflower house provide an ideal resting place for the child. It is not only a place for outdoor activity, but also a secret space to hide from the world and be alone and quiet. It is also the place that will give your child a special space just for him which could help him build his self-confidence..
7. Spend quality time with your child
The ultimate magical ingredient at an outdoor playground loved by kids – that’s TIME. In this complex and fast-paced world, we need to make room for our children and assure them that we care for them.
Children need our love, kindness and strength to make them feel safe and confident in themselves. Spending quality time with your child will be the most precious gift you can give them.