Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Natural Playspaces

Growing up, we had a metal swing set and a tractor tire sandbox.  Now days, wood jungle gyms have replaced the old-fashioned metal sets.  City's now install play systems that cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.  Only in older parks do you see the older tall metal slides and swings.  Even merry-go-rounds are a thing of the past.  They are dangerous.  With all the safety rules that newer generations of parents continue to follow, it's amazing that any of us survived growing up without car seats and running with sticks.

There is a new trend though of Natural Play spaces.  I recently discovered a whole bunch of info on a few new-to me blogs and of course on Pinterest.   These play areas encourage discovering of nature.  Playing in the mud and getting dirty.  Exploring and creativity.  We have two girls that love getting dirty and playing hard.  And we had some wasted space that behind a shed in our yard.  What is a parent to do......encourage exploration!!!

Joe and I spent a couple days clearing out icky weeds and making sure there were no hazardous nails lost in this dirt area.  And considering we did it on the hottest weekend of the year, I got to say I am surprised we were able to get it finished!  This all was free, just a lot of hard work and sweat and repurposing of items from the yard.

We have an elderly neighbor who has a huge property.  His health is getting bad, so we have been volunteering to help keep the back part of the property mowed and cleaned up.  I mainly started out thinking that keeping the lawn mowed down would help keep the mosquito and possible little critters down to a minimum, all while helping them out.  But I discovered a huge amount of downed branches and twigs.  We pulled them all over to our yard this afternoon, and I also discovered that I do not have an allergy to poison oak.  Apparently I was running around in it with flip flops and shorts on.  No issues so far....whew!

Anyway, we used some of the sticks to make like a little crawl through space, that I can easily throw a sheet over and make a quiet tent that they can play in.

 Here's Lydia and her cousin exploring the corner.  The little logs are to sit on or even step up on.
 We have a loose dirt playing area.
 The old water table will be a mud pie kitchen.
 More exploring.  The girls are excited to start playing back here.  And my OCDs are overloading my brain at how muddy the girls can potentially become.....I can do this!!

Do you have a little are that you can make into an exploration area?  You don't have to spend hundreds on play equipment to allow your children fun to explore.....where was this info 6 years ago when we bought our jungle gym?!?!