Outdoor play is crucial for kids. It helps them develop their learning abilities, as well as their creativity, social skills, well-being, and independence. Instead of watching YouTube or playing games on their phone or tablet, why not encourage your kids to explore the things around them and let them play?
There are so many ways to entertain kids. Let them engage in dress-up activities, role-playing, face painting, crafts and artwork, and more. Add a sky dancer in their play area to make it more fun and entertaining.
It is highly encouraged that you bring your kids to parks, zoos, and other recreational places where they can engage in outdoor play. But if you’re like most parents who don’t always have the time to take your kids out, it’s nice to have a play area at home.
Yes, you can buy one or hire professionals to build one for you.
But you can also make one on your own!
With a few tools, inexpensive materials like wood, tarps, or sand, some recycled items, and lots of creativity, you can have a DIY kids’ play area that is not only beautiful and engaging but also eco-friendly!
Follow this guide to make a DIY eco-friendly play area for your kids.
Playhouse Design Ideas
Okay. The first step is to make a layout of how your play area will look like. Consider where you are going to build it. While it’s ideal to install a play area outdoors, if you don’t have enough space or if you live in an apartment or condominium, you can also have one inside. Once you decide where to put it, get the right measurements. It doesn’t always have to be a big play area. A small playground is definitely okay as long as it contains elements that encourage creative play and physical activity.
Can’t think of a nice design for your kids’ play area? Here are a few ideas to inspire you:
Rainbow Playground Castle – kids love castles. If you have kids and boys, they will definitely enjoy a castle-themed house with lots of activities like a slide, climbing area, and an obstacle race.
Beach-inspired Play Area – perfect if you have a pool at home. Using some sand, pebbles, tarps, and wood pellets for accents, your kids can enjoy the water, sand, and outdoor play in your very own backyard. Perfect for the coming summer!
Earth-friendly Playhouse – outdoor play is learning. You can make your eco-friendly play area a place for your kids to explore their natural surroundings. Put up a recycling center where they can make some crafts, eco-friendly outdoor science projects, a water reservoir leading to a rain barrel, and a skylight. Don’t forget to add a space where your kids can grow some plants. It’s going to be an awesome experience!
Country Playhouse – children love playhouses that come with a stove, sink, and cordless phone inside, along with flower boxes and bench. Don’t forget to place a table where they can engage in arts and crafts.
Teepee Tent – if you’re looking for a very simple yet cute play area, a teepee tent is a great idea. All you need is a good-quality tarp, wooden poles, and rope to tie all the things together. This tent is a perfect place for your kids to play, read, nap, and even play some cards or board games.
Eco-Friendly Materials for Play Areas
Some of the most fun things you can add to your kid’s playhouse can be found in your home. Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Giant reclaimed wooden blocks are great for outdoor play and creative play. Your kids can paint on them too.
- Make a balance beam using a block of scrap wood. It’s great at helping your kids build confidence and balance, and practice their motor skills.
- Build a chalkboard easel from an old ladder.
- Install a backyard tightrope which is a very simple addition in your play area but can add hours of active play.
- Make a cozy seating area from pallets. After hours of play, your little ones certainly need some downtime.
Essentials for Creating a Play Area
When designing your DIY eco-friendly play area, one of the major things you should consider is how you can encourage active play. Needless to say, kids love having space to move. Toys and elements that let your kids move around and stay physically active is a must. Add tools or resources that allow them to run, hop, swing, pull and push, climb, etc. These may include a skipping rope, a swing, stepping stones, hula hoops, balance ball, etc.
Activities that stimulate the five senses of your children are not only fun. They also support brain development. Among the popular sensory activities are sand, water, and mud play. Yes, they can be messy but they are incredibly healthy for your child’s developing mind! You can also add pebbles, a leaf pile, seashells, seedpods, and other objects of various shapes, colors, and textures.
Don’t forget to add elements that encourage creative play. Aside from painting or drawing, other activities to try are playdough modeling and raised salt painting. You can also add a table and stock on art materials, like colors, pens, yarns, sticks, etc. Your curious munchkins will surely be encouraged to create beautiful things out of these things.
Yes, even kids need quiet time too. They will benefit from a serene space where they can hide away from the world and just enjoy the silence, which can help them develop and practice mindfulness. The teepee tent is a great refuge for your active, little explorers. You can also install hammock beneath the trees, a bean hut, or a sunflower grove. Even a pair of large umbrellas can serve as a lovely hideaway.
When building a play area for your kids, always, always prioritize their safety. One of the best things about choosing eco-friendly materials is that you know they won’t cause potential harm to your child’s health. Polyester, for instance, can contain toxic chemicals like BPA.
Eco-friendly equipment is made of recycled materials, and are non-toxic. Your play area should have more wood or recycled objects than plastic.
For the surfacing, you can use recycled rubber, such as tires, engineered wood fiber, or a blend of both. If you’re purchasing recycled materials for your kid’s play area, check the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and review the manufacturer’s planning guide. You want to steer clear from potentially harmful compounds that are commonly present in building materials, such as polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and volatile organic compounds (V.O.C.s).
The capacity of the play area is also a primary safety concern, particularly the surface your kids will walk on and its weight-bearing capacity. Estimate how many kids (and what size) will be using the play area. Take note that aside from your kids, there might be other children (neighbors or relatives) who will likely use the play area when visiting your home.
Building an eco-friendly play area for your children is tremendously fun. With materials you can pull off from your home, your kids can have a wonderful space where they can play and learn.