When we were young kids, I lived for many years in Minnesota. I loved it there. The outdoors seemed to call to us. As I look back I wonder if that was really true, or if it was just different then. We didn’t have endless shows to binge watch. My family didn’t have an Atari system or any game system. We were on our own when it came to entertaining ourselves, and the backyard was a great option. We used to make up plays, dances, build forts in the woods behind the house, and spend hours in the lake, playing king of the dock.
I believe if we give kids the encouragement to play in the yard, and the tools to imagine while there, they will learn to dream, learn to create, and learn to live.
Some of my favorite backyard ideas for creative play are:
- Stage: Building a small platform or an outdoor stage. I love the idea of an outdoor area for performances. As children we made up endless dances and plays. (This was one of my first opportunities to design costumes!) There were many times when the whole family would be involved. We would invite parents and neighbors as audience members, sell popcorn, and laugh as we performed our “play.” This would be a great place to include your Little Adventures dress ups. Imagine pirate adventures, knights and dragons, and rewriting of all fairytales all played out on stage.
- Playhouse/Tree fort: A playhouse, or tree fort. I had friends that had a tree house that brought endless hours of creative fun. We used to spend time fixing it up, cleaning it out, preparing for our overnight “stays” in the tree house. We used to create restaurants, play house, create wars with the neighboring boys, and play school. Add a great trunk inside that can hold Little Adventures dress ups for your child’s adventures. The playhouse can become a princess tower, a dragon’s lair, or a pirate ship. Only limited by your child’s imagination.
- Trampoline: Although my parents never had a trampoline, while I was growing up, my husband and I invested in putting in an in-ground trampoline for our kids. It was one of the best toy investments that we have made. Although we have had to set some simple rules for safety, even our teenagers still use the trampoline almost daily with their friends. It has gone from being a place of play to a place of hang out and circle chats with friends. It has also allowed them a place to make fun videos of each other performing tricks.
- Tire Swing: A friend had a simple tire swing in their backyard. It was a place of contest, physical challenges and endless spinning. We would find ourselves seeing how high we could swing, seeing how many kids we could manage to fit on the swing at one time, and who could last the longest while swinging upside down.
- Sprinkler/Hose: Investing in a simple sprinkler can create many hours of creative fun for young children. Water fights, challenges, slip and slides with a simple plastic tarp and a sprinkler on a trampoline can be a fun way to enjoy the days that are HOT, HOT, HOT.
- Sidewalk Chalk: One of my favorite, and one of the most inexpensive ways to get kids outside for hours of fun and entertainment, over and over, is sidewalk chalk. Dressing up and creating scenes that coordinate with an outfit is a fun way to combine dress up and sidewalk art. For example: create a scene of am underwater world, full of sea creatures while dressed as a mermaid. My kids had endless hours of fun with friends, on a dime with sidewalk chalk. com has great ideas for sidewalk chalk adventures!
- Sandbox: Years ago we put in a simple sandbox. It has been a place of many sandcastle extravaganzas, rivers and roads, tunnels and holes. If you combine it with a nice sunshade or umbrella and you have a place where kids get to create, pretend and build. One of our favorite things is to bury dinosaurs and go digging like an archeological dig. My kids no longer play in my sandbox, but my young great-nieces that come visit are still love it!! A great sandbox is the KIDCRAFT Activity Sandbox with Canopy.
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