How to Make an Outdoor Play Space
These days you need to have something pretty special in your backyard if you want your kids to put down the game controllers and go outside in the fresh air to play.
We all know the benefits of playing outside both physical and mental. But with so many things to keep your kids happily if not lazily occupied in the house, you are going to need to come up with something pretty special in terms of an outdoor play space if you want to overcome this issue.
To help with this, here 10 great ideas that can turn your ordinary backyard into one your children will love spending more time in, rather than sitting in front of their computer or television screen.
The big thing to keep in mind is that you don't have to spend a fortune buying one of those prefabricated jungle gyms to create a great play space. That is, unless you want to. After all, everyone loves flying through the air on a swing or shooting down the slide.
1. The Good Old-Fashioned Swing
When it comes to adding a swing to your outdoor play space, there is a huge selection for you to choose from in the stores. Or, you can build your kids a tire swing or go crazy and install a skateboard swing.
Most kids will spend hours on a good swing, even as they reach their young teenage years. To build your own swing, you need a tree, some rope or chain, and in this case, an old tire or skateboard for your kids to sit/stand on.
2. A Private Place of Their Own
No matter whether you let your kids build their own fort using scrap lumber, branches, twigs, and whatever else they can find, or you take the time to build one for them, all kids need a clubhouse.
There are endless fort/playhouse designs on the web to choose from, some are more complicated than others. But, the most important thing to remember is to let your kids not only have a say in what the finished product looks like, but also to allow them to get involved and help you build it.
3. Teach Your Kids to Bowl at a Young Age
Bowling has been a national pastime for more decades than many of us can remember. It is one of America's favorite family fun games. But, not all of us have enough time on our hands to go hang out at the nearest bowling alley, even if there is one in driving distance.
While your kids might enjoy a night out at the bowling alley, they are even more sure to enjoy having their own bowling alley out in the backyard.
Check out this video covering how to build your own backyard bowling alley.
4. Their Own Gardening Space
You might be surprised at how many younger children love to hang out in the garden. You might be even more surprised at how many would spend endless hours working in their own garden.
It can be flowers or vegetables; the idea is simply to get them out there working the soil and learning how to grow plants. Younger children need to be supervised and taught how to prepare the soil, plant the seeds, water them, and keep the weeds at bay.
As they get older and have learned to appreciate the joys of gardening, your kids can take care of their own gardens or use the time to spend with mom and dad.
5. Water Features for Outdoor Play
From swimming pools to Slip ‘n Slides, kids just love to play in the water on a hot summer day. There is an endless list of water toys you can buy in the stores, but they all come at a cost.
That swimming pool, at least $200 for a small one, Slip ‘n Slides hard to find anymore. But, then who wants to be like everyone else in the neighborhood? Let's get really creative here and talk about a few things you can make yourself or put together at a very low cost.
a. The Bag ‘O Water
Think of this as an outdoor water bed or simply a water blob. This simple project can be completed in a couple of hours using nothing more than a couple of sheets of heavy duty clear vinyl and a roll or two of exceptionally strong duct tape (I used Gorilla® brand).
In all, I spent less than $20. Your younger kids will spend hours bouncing around on it and having a blast. For more fun add a sprinkler to the mix.
b. Speaking of Sprinklers
There truly is nothing better than running through a cool shower of water coming from the sprinkler. Kids of all ages (yes, grownups too) can spend hours dancing in the water.
Of course, you can run down to your local discount department store and choose from many different designs, but that's no fun. Why not make your own from an old water bottle, a drill or punch and a roll of duct tape?
Your kids get to have fun in the sun and you just saved yourself enough money to buy a couple of cold beers.
c. Use Your Noodle
For this you need a pool noodle, you can use a regular one or an extra-large one if you want. Along with this, you need a roll of duct tape and some way to drill or punch holes in the noodle.
Take the punch or drill and make a series of holes in the noodle that will allow water to shoot out in different directions. Use duct tape to seal one end and to hold the hose in the other end. Then turn on the water and let the kids have fun. Simple, cheap and guaranteed to keep the kids busy for hours at a time.
6. Tonka Time
Even today, younger kids will still get outside and play if there is something out there to keep them busy. Kids love to create, so why not give them a place to play with trucks, loaders, dump trucks, graders, and all of those “totally cool” construction vehicles kids go nuts over when they see them at work.
All you really need is a spot in your yard to create the “construction” zone. Use pressure treated lumber to create the framework and then fill with sand, gravel, rocks, mulch and anything else that might be fun.
7. The Writing Wall
Kids love to draw, write, and create their own graffiti. If you already have a fence in your backyard, you can buy chalkboards to attach to it. If not, you can always build a standing wall to add them to.
Alternatively, you can make your own chalkboards using a sheet of plywood. Paint one side with chalkboard paint (available in many stores) and then seal the rest of it with Thompson's Water Seal to keep it protected from the weather.
Add one or two boxes of colored chalk and a rag to wipe the board clean and your kids are sure to have hours of fun in the sun!
8. Go Tire Crazy
If you are lucky enough to have a large backyard, why not create an obstacle course for your kids and their friend to play on.
You can scrounge up used tires from one of your local tire stores and then use them along with boards or logs to create an amazing array of obstacles that are guaranteed to provide plenty of healthy exercise and some serious problem-solving skills to improve their performance.
You can stage races and award prized to the winners. Great fun for your kids and the rest of the neighborhood.
9. Create an Outdoor Workshop
Every young man and many young ladies like the idea of having their own workspace with tools they can use to build things.
It is a great time for your child to learn simple tasks like hammering nails into boards, using screws and screwdrivers, cordless power tools under supervision, and more.
It is also a great way for Dad to get out there and spend time with the kids. Not only is this a great bonding time, but it gives Mom a break and can result in some very cool finished products.
10. I Don't Have a Tree for a Tree House
So, you don't have a tree to build a treehouse in for the kids. But, you do have a deck hanging off the back of your house. Right now, the space under your deck is probably filled with junk or just somewhere to put the garbage cans.
However, what it can become is a magical playhouse/clubhouse/fun zone for your kids. It really doesn't take much, some sheets of plywood, a few 2x4s for framing, a door, windows, and anything else you want to add to it.
Your kids will be able to play in it year-round and finally have a place to call their own.
Turn Your Backyard into an Amazing Play Space for Your Kids
It really doesn't take much to turn your backyard into an amazing play space for your kids. But the more creative you get, the more time your kids, and their friends, will spend out in the fresh air instead of sitting in the house glued to the TV or computer.
Don't be afraid, let your imagination run wild. The best part is that most of the ideas here will not cost much in terms of cash to build, just your imagination and some elbow grease.
I hope the information and ideas I have put together have inspired you to get out there and be creative. If there is anything else you would like to see here, please let me know here. If you like the information provided here make sure you let your friends know.