Outdoor Playground Ideas: creative cubbies, nature crafts, built environments and science ideas

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Here is a comprehensive list of things you might add to an outdoor playground with thanks to Fiona Jarvis, Development and Support Worker, ACT Playgroups
and the article “Adventures in Space” from Totline 2, 2011.

I’m really indebted to Fiona- I’ve got a whole lot of new ideas to plan for home now.
Thank you!

And of course, these things must be used under adult supervision. 
There is my health and safety message out of the way :)

*Creative Cubbies-
provide old sheets or fabric,
and perhaps string up a length of rope between two trees, or two fence posts, for a stable support.
I know that portable clothes lines make great cubby walls too, as do those sawhorse things daddies often have stashed in the shed or garage to make a workbench.  A teepee just needs 6 long poles (think broomstick or rake handles) and a long rope to tie it all together.


*Art of Craft-
Make sure there are natural objects that are touchable, huggable, changeable companions for play,
such as seed pods, driftwood, stones, bark, shells, and river rocks in individual buckets.
I like to use large smooth river rocks to build a ‘fire pit’ to inspire all kinds of ‘outdoor cooking play’.
You might like to visit Donni at The Magic Onions  and her family and see their Little House on the Prairie-inspired  Outdoor Kitchen.  Well worth a visit for outdoor play tips!

*Built Environment-
Add cartons, blocks, crates, planks, ropes, duct tape, poles with pulleys, pipes, clotheslines and pegs.
I’d add at least one or two of those great big wooden cable drums. The type that electricity suppliers use.
They make great tables, and children love to roll them too!



*Science stimulus-
Why not pop these into your outdoor space?
Magnifying glass, measuring tape, jars, butterfly nets, measuring cups and spoons, funnels, and rain gauges.  Fiona suggest food colouring and paint, but what about a natural alternative??  Hand dyeing wool, fleece or fabric with eucalyptus leaves, beetroot, onion skins, or flower buds?
Why not try making your own natural paints too?  A little cornflour, water and colourful pigments from nature (ochre from rocks, white clay, flower heads, leaves… etc) might work.  Give it a try.

*Inspire imagination-
Add fabric or dress up clothes, backpacks, sacks, wood pieces and wheels.
Fiona suggests making new hills, bumps and mounds.  I love to offer undulating terrains, but how can this be done in an established space?

I’m thinking about stacking three tyres into a pyramid for climbing over , covering tyre mounds with a piece of unused carpet or sisal, laying a track of five or six tyres in a row for a balance game.

Have you any other ideas???

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