10 Tips for Enhancing Your Outdoor Play Space

15th September, 2010 - Posted by - 4 Comments

Looking to liven up a traditional play space? We’ve got some great tips for you!

1. Build a Sunflower House: Plant sunflowers in a square, circle, or any other shape you’d like, to create a living playhouse for hiding and hanging out.

2. Create a Willow Dome: Create a permanent ‘living’ room for children to play in outdoors. Plant it in the winter so when spring comes the willow will start sprouting new roots and leaves.

3. Mow a Meadow Maze: Let your lawn grown. You can create a fun, natural play space for your children to play. Carve out a maze or zigzag path with your lawnmower.

4. Plant Some Bulbs: This is a strange and mysterious experience for children. Plant the bulbs in strategic, fun ways that act as colorful accents to your play space features and pathways.

5. Add Boom Drums: Use plastic barrels and trim them to whatever size you want. Bolt them to the ground or not and encourage kids to bang on them.
* Instructions for all of these enhancements can be found in Rusty Keeler’s book, Natural Playscapes

6. Bring on the Pumpkins: Place small pumpkins outside for children to touch, carry, and explore. Encourage children to take turns carrying and pushing them in a wheel barrel.

7. Add Loose Parts: Use blocks, boards, “tree cookies” (log slices), and milk crates for outdoor construction play. Give children chalk, fabric, paintbrushes, or water for enhanced imaginative play.

8. Build a Vine Tepee: Add a hideaway to children’s play space and naturalize their outdoor environment. Click here for Do-It-Yourself instructions.

9. Add Color: Brighten and create a welcoming environment by adding painted rocks, mosaic stepping stones, windsocks or pinwheels to your play space.

10. Incorporate Recycled Materials: Use your imagination! Add some cardboard boxes or pipes for construction play. Add tins, buckets, or bottles for children to bang on to create music and movement opportunities.

Want to share this info with other educators or parents? Click here to download it as a handy Tip Sheet in both English and Spanish.

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Wendy Gabriel

September 16th, 2010 at 3:22 am    

Wonderful ideas! I love them all. We used to make sunflower houses all the time when we were growing up. They are so magical. Thanks for sparking my imagination!


September 16th, 2010 at 11:43 am    

Thanks, Wendy! We love the idea of nature making its way into playgrounds and play spaces across the globe. :-)


January 18th, 2011 at 9:04 pm    

Wow, sunflower houses and willow domes sound so magical!!


Natural Outdoor Play Space – Part One |

July 12th, 2011 at 1:03 am    

[...] I also love the “Zelda” feel of the tree trunk table and chairs. I also find these ten tips to be great ideas as well. I don’t know about you, but I’d love to spend an afternoon [...]

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