Every parent wants to find creative ways to encourage their child to express their imagination, make up new games, learn new skills… and move away from digital TV screens!
The good news is that it’s perfectly possible to make some fantastic children’s play areas with just a few basic materials and some inspiration. Here are some of our favourite ideas.
An outdoor kitchen
Why not use old pallets and a Belfast sink to create an outdoor kitchen space? Fix hooks to the end of the ‘worktop’ and use them to attach camping cookware that will be resilient enough for garden games. Your little ones will have great fun whipping up imaginary meals for everyone to enjoy!
A garden tent
Tents are a childhood staple of imaginary outdoor play, so be really creative in how you create their ‘den’. You can hang big sheets over a line and a tree, or use a real tent and fill it with blankets, cushions, teddies and books. Why not build a wigwam or encourage the kids to make their own den on a forest walk using branches and leaves?
Outdoor play tables
Artificial grass is a fantastic surface for children to play on, and it also makes a great material for outdoor tables. Use wooden batons to create table legs and a sanded wooden surface for the table, then add artificial grass on top for a realistic outdoor ‘pitch’ style play space for cars, trucks, dolls and other small toys. Why not make matching tree stump stools so that your little ones can sit around their play space and create rich imaginary worlds in peace?
A reading nook
If you have garden canes and trailing plants, you could create a private reading nook by creating a curved wicker frame and then encouraging pretty climbing plants to grow over it for a little quiet hidey-hole for reading time. Alternatively, create the wicker frame on artificial grass and use artificial leaf garlands to create the nook without any risk of damp or unwanted insect visitors!
A mud pit
If you have a naturally muddy area in your garden, why not treat your kids to their own mud pit? Cordon it off and add wooden borders using planks so that the mud area can get nice and squishy without spilling over into the rest of the garden. Add buckets, toys and stepping stones for small feet to traverse their mucky area!
Every small person loves a sandpit and you can either buy one or create your own. The simplest sandpits are made from plastic and simply sit on your lawn or artificial grass in a play area, or you can make a sunken pit, fill it with sand and make a lid so that the sand remains clean and free from garden detritus.
A natural climbing frame
If your garden is spacious then a climbing frame is a perfect addition for active children. Look for wooden frames which can integrate with any trees that you might have and look attractive in your outdoor space. Great features include a slide and a tarp-covered nook for relaxing and cooling off when the weather is hot.
A fairy garden
Use large containers, succulents, miniature stepping stones and gravel to create a mini world which can then be decorated with tiny houses, fairy corners, small solar lights and other decorations. Your fairy garden will only be limited by your imagination and you could make a series of fairy garden containers and put them in a quiet corner for your children to engage with creatively, making up stories and letting their natural imaginations run wild!
Have these ideas inspired you to create a great children’s play area outdoors this year? We’d love to hear your plans!