Is your backyard truly kid-friendly? I don’t mean in terms of safety, but in terms of fostering play and imagination. Maybe you have just moved into a new home, or your young child has finally reached that age where they’re ready to start exploring the outdoors independently. Whatever the case, it doesn’t require much time or money to transform your backyard into the perfect kids’ play area. If fact, with a few adjustments, you can make your backyard the envy of all the kids in the neighborhood. Here are just a few things you might need:
Some Ideas That Every Child Will Love
Swings. If you feel inclined to go out and invest in a full-sized swing set with all of the best swings, slides and monkey bars, that’s great. However, if you don’t currently have the budget, space or interest in such a build, you may want to invest in a simple tire swing. It costs very little, it takes up virtually no space at all, and it connects effortlessly to any sturdy tree. Many toy manufacturers — like Super Spinner — are designing kid-safe tire swings in bright colors, so you need not worry about any ugly old tires compromising your children’s safety.
A Chalkboard. Backyard chalkboards are becoming increasingly popular, as they’re easy to build and enable your children to foster their creativity while outdoors. You can build the chalkboard over your existing fence using salvaged wood, and then paint over it with chalkboard paint. It really is that simple.
A Child’s Garden. This is another simple and inexpensive addition to any yard, and one that is as educational and edifying as it is fun. You can purchase kids’ gardening kits at any toy store, or simply set up your own creative garden using planters, your favorite seeds, and a few colorful crafts (to add decorative touches). Your little one will experience tremendous excitement as he or she watches the garden grow.
What Does Your Child Love?
Beyond the basic essentials, it’s important to stop and consider the specific kinds of activities that are important to your child. After all, if you want to get them away from their video games and out into nature, you must tailor your outdoor playspace to their needs. Does your child love sports? Consider adding a simple basketball court or tetherball court, both of which require very little installation. Does your child love to splash
around in the water? You may want to invest in a fun kiddie pool, or any one of countless water games that kids love (who remembers the Slip n’ Slide?).
A Few Helpful Tips
- When building the ultimate kid’s play zone, make it a family affair. If the kids are old enough, get them involved not only in the planning, but also in the the assembly. It’s a great way to build memories and teach your child to truly appreciate the great outdoor toys at their disposal.
- Portable play items allow you to easily transform your yard from a kids’ play place to grownup wonderland in a matter of minutes, so if you also like to use your backyard to entertain your own friends, focus on items that can easily be moved as needed, like kiddie pools, tire swings, and portable sports equipment. Items like sandboxes and swing sets aren’t so easy to transport.
- Safety first. Whenever purchasing a new outdoor item for a child, make sure to check the age recommendations, and follow all safety instructions. For younger kids, close supervision is always critical.
Stay Safe and Have Fun
While you’re making your backyard into the ultimate playground for your kids, it’s important to ensure their safety above all else. With some careful planning and common sense, it’s easy to make sure your little ones have a safe space in which they can create and play.
- If your home is surrounded by lots of vegetation, or is located in a wooded area, it’s likely that a few of those plants around your backyard may be toxic to small children or pets. According to Healthy Children, an online organization promoting pediatric health, the leading cause of poisoning among pre-school age children is from common backyard plants. Do some research on which plants are safe to have in your backyard, and which should be removed. For instance, naturally growing plants like poison ivy can be found in a variety of places throughout the country. If you’re unsure about which plants in your backyard are poisonous, consult a landscaping professional.
- All child safety should begin and end with proper supervision. Talk to your children about what to do in emergency situations, or what to do if a stranger approaches them. If you plan on being away or have to run errands, always make sure your kids are supervised by a babysitter or neighbor.
- Always ensure a soft landing. If you have installed a play structure or swingset, you should make sure that the surrounding area has some kind of soft, or shock-absorbing padding. This can be as easy as laying down wooden or rubber mulch to prevent any serious injuries kids can get from falling down.
Remember, there are no hard or fast rules for building the perfect kids’ play zone. You know your children better than anyone else, so get creative, and make it something truly special!