Play Spaces Outdoors
Summertime opens up all sorts of possibilities for outdoor play. Depending on how much space you can dedicate to the kids, even a fraction of your backyard can be a playtime paradise for youngsters. With a smidgen of imagination, moderate effort and not that much cash, all the playground inspiration you need is right here!
Mud Pie Corner
Permission to make a muddy mess? Create a mobile mud pit or a stationary mud station – depending on the level of mess you’re comfortable with and how much dirt you want to haul around! The mobile mud pit from Happy Hooligans is easy to set up and clean up (just a hose and some sand and potting soil should get the job done!).
My Small Potatoes went all out on a mud pie station, combining utensils (pans and mixing bowls, spoons and trowels ) and plenty of mixing bowls. It’s like a short order outdoor kitchen for dirty little chefs!
Sweet Lil You turned a sliver of their yard — where the grass refused to grow — into an outdoor playroom for their pre-K daughter. With a piece of 12 x 12 AstroTurf®, some flower boxes, and timber borders (that double as low-lying balance beams), the result was a space all her own, decorated with kids’ outdoor furniture and toys.
Kids love to play in it, pack it in buckets and feel it between their toes! There are commercial sandboxes at Walmart, Target and on Amazon. But old truck tires make a great inexpensive sandbox, and if you’re handy with power tools, here’s one awesome sandbox project. With bench seating that closes at night to keep out the neighborhood cats, that crafty Ana White provides detailed plans for a $20-$50 sandbox, plus a YouTube tutorial.
Buckets of Fun
Happy Hooligans posted the “best thing ever added to a backyard play area.” Jackie’s hooligans play with this bucket contraption year-round, unaware that they’re strengthening arm muscles and developing teamwork skills, at the same time. Mom Jackie took a bucket, a rope, and cut up some pool noodles (although the kids put anything they can find into the bucket!), and tossed the loose end over a clothesline pole.
What youngster doesn’t like to doodle on a chalkboard? Here’s an easy-peasy outdoor wall of summer entertainment for the kids and all you need is plywood, latex paint, and non-sanded grout. Plus, it’s easy enough that the kids can lend a hand to create it!
A backyard waterslide takes about five minutes to set up with a huge sheet of heavy duty plastic (like a camping tarp), water from the hose and a little cheap shampoo — to make it super slippery. This works best with a small slope in the yard, but regardless –your kids will have hours of water fun in the sun!
Miss Sue of the Children’s Network created a backyard music wall on her fence for small visiting musicians. Scrounge for household items, percussive instruments (or pieces of former instruments), or anything that would make an interesting sound when rubbed, struck or plucked. Attach it all to a “wall”, and let the kids have at it!
Pallet Bike Ramp
A play group organizer found some pallets and discarded tires and created a bike ramp that was VERY popular with her preschool set. The incline takes some work for the wee ones to pedal up, and they’ll need to steer clear of the open edge, but the fun lasts as long as their energy!
Come Play at Crystal Valley!
Put your autograph on a brand new home and backyard — in the master-planned community of Crystal Valley in Castle Rock! Explore the new home designs by Richmond American Homes, available in ranch or two-story models and priced from the high $300s. And – coming soon – new homes by D.R. Horton and Kauffman Homes!