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Howdy, family adventurers! Isn't it a blessing to see the world through the curious eyes of a child? The outdoor spaces around us, be it our backyard or a local park, are an endless treasure chest of creativity and learning, just waiting to be explored. Step with us into the delightful world of creative exploration and imaginative play, right in your own backyard or local park. 

According to a study by the University of British Columbia, outdoor play is not just fun, folks, it also contributes to significant health benefits. 

Regular exposure to natural environments can aid in decreasing children’s anxiety levels, while also enhancing their attention concentration, creativity, and social interactions. 

Don't fuss about the size of the space. It's all about making the most of it for your kids to enjoy the great outdoors, which is packed full of benefits.

Today, we're ready to inspire you to make the most out of your outdoor space and convert it into a fantastic play and learning zone.

Create a Mud Kitchen or Dig Pit

Dig into this idea of empowering your kids to become little chefs! 

An old table, some used pots and pans, and let's not forget the mud - these elements cook up a fantastic recipe for a backyard kitchen. 

You don't need a fancy custom setup, whatever you have laying around is more than sufficient. 

Plant Fruits & Vegetables

Repurpose old containers, get your hands on some seeds and soil, and voila - your kids can have their very own garden. 

It's a beautiful way to teach them about growth, responsibility, sustainability, and patience. 

You can also use this as a way to teach your kids about the importance of eating healthy. They'll be more likely to eat their fruits and veggies if they know where they come from! 

No yard, or limited access to the outdoors? Create a small-scale sensory garden, instead! 

Use pots, planters, and other containers to create a small garden that engages all of your kiddo's senses. You can plant flowers, herbs, or even vegetables in these containers; and the best part is, you don't need a lot of space, just a little sunshine. Plant on a porch or even indoors! 

Make an Art Nook

An art nook in your backyard will encourage your child's creativity. Collect rocks, leaves, and flowers to be their artsy inspirations. Then, get a table that can get dirty or flatten some cardboard from your last package, gather some paint brushes, and water colors or tempera paints. 

I've found that I am more likely to bust out the art supplies if they live where I want to use them, so that means storing some art supplies outside!

If storing your art supplies outdoors, add a sealable bucket to protect them from the weather. 

Create your own Fairy Garden

A fairy garden is a great way to engage your child in gardening and imaginative play. You can craft your very own with just a few supplies: a container, soil, plants, and some fairy accessories. You can also buy kits that come with everything you need to create your own magical world.

Unlike our vegetable garden idea above, the purpose of a fairy garden is solely for play and imagination. 

Children can choose the plants, manipulate the figures, and make this space ENTIRELY their own. That goes for the grown-ups too, there's no age limit to fairy gardens!

Set Up a DIY Obstacle Course

A few twists, turns, and dirt mounds can easily turn your backyard into a thrilling bike track or an exploration trail. If biking isn't in the cards, let your children walk, hop, and skip their way into fitness.

Each section of your yard, no matter how small, can become a unique play zone bustling with sensory and play activities. 

From water play with makeshift fountains and streams to the enchanting world inside the box fort, each zone is a unique space that caters to a different sense. Children get the most benefits from play that engages their senses, which helps them to learn, focus, and live happier and healthier lives. 

While a semi-permanent structure may not be possible in a public park, you can use what is easily packed out and portable. Use cones, hula hoops, and other items to create an obstacle course in your backyard or at a local park. You can also use chalk to draw lines on the ground that children have to follow as they go through the course.

More sensory input, more fun!

Important Note: Being comfortable is the first step to having a pleasant experience in the outdoors. From sunscreen that actually stays-put to bug-repellent that isn't greasy or oily, check out this article on Enjoying the Outdoors With a Sensory-Sensitive Child.

If you're still unsure where to start, connect with the experts at Playful Acre. They excel at turning any space into a perfect playground suited to your family's needs and dreams.

So folks, you've got the ideas. Now's the time to roll up your sleeves and create a sensational setup that your kids won't get enough of. Let's play, learn, and grow together in the great outdoors!


January 20, 2024

Written by
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Reagan Fulton

Meet Reagan Fulton: a nature enthusiast, adventurer, and the heart and soul behind Playful Acre. With a flair for storytelling and a deep devotion towards child development and nature play, Reagan writes her way into the hearts of nannies, educators, and parents alike.

Through her writing, she shares her wealth of experience as a professional nanny and nanny-mom, connecting to her readers through anecdotes and heartwarming tales—altogether weaving a tapestry of shared values.

Reagan believes that nature is the ultimate playground, one that both stimulate and nourish the young, curious minds. This passion led her to establish Playful Acre—a platform dedicated to inspiring experiential learning, preserving the magic of childhood through nature play, and advocating for equitable access to sensory-friendly learning environments. Through her captivating writing and innovative programs, she's changing the game when it comes to early childhood education.

When she isn't immersed in weaving words or spearheading her advocacy work, you'll find Reagan leading hikes, exploring the great outdoors, and constantly experimenting with new, enchanting ways to engage and inspire children to connect with nature. Her boundless energy, creativity, and passion are hallmark qualities that resonate with her audience, inviting them into the welcoming warmth of Playful Acre's nurturing community.

Join Reagan on her journey as she takes us through the verdant world of child development and nature play—whether it's through her words or her dedication to advocacy. With an unwavering commitment to connect children to the outdoors, she continues to empower generations of little explorers, creating lasting memories and fostering an irreversible love for the natural world.

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