Sam Flatman, Educational Consultant for Pentagon Sport, shares some of his favourite ideas for creating your own children’s playground at home.
Children love going outside, playing on the swings and taking on obstacle courses, but playgrounds don’t have to be just for school break times and weekend trips to the park. With a bit of creativity, children can benefit from play in their own back garden without the need to invest in a specially made climbing frame. Here are some of my favourite ideas for DIY children’s playgrounds:
Many uses for old tyres
Old tyres are an excellent resource for children’s playgrounds. Once you’ve checked that they’re clean and safe for use, they can be stacked up to make a climbing frame, arranged into a hopscotch pattern or even used as a swing. For something a little more arty, tyres can be recycled to make a range of animals, such as ladybirds, parrots and elephants. If your children enjoy planting, then recycled tyres can be placed on the ground to make circular plant pots or cut in half to create hanging plant pots.
Construct waterways from guttering
Waterways are rarely seen on public playgrounds but they are a valuable learning resource. Waterways transfer water like a miniature aqueduct and can help children with learning in maths and science. Guttering can be used to construct waterways, though because it’s easily snapped if it’s walked or jumped on, it’s better to choose a sturdier plastic if you want to make a permanent feature. As well as creating straight lines, try making zig-zag patterns too. Older children will love constructing their own and this is a good way for them to learn about water flow too.
Build wooden balancing beams
With just a few planks of wood, you can create balancing beams by placing them next to each other along the ground, or even raising them onto short stilts and connecting the ends. If you have an old tree that needs to come down, then you could cut this into small sections to make tree stump stepping stones. Both balancing beams and stepping stones can help children to improve their balance and coordination.
Make your own sandbox
A DIY sandbox is another great use for a couple of spare wooden planks. Sandboxes provide a great opportunity for sensory play, which younger children not only love but can learn a lot from. While they are digging, sifting, pouring and building with sand, they can develop their gross motor skills. Incorporating smaller toys, such as spoons or rakes, can boost hand-eye coordination and fine motor skill development. Don’t forget to put some tarpaulin underneath the sand to prevent wetness.
When it comes to finding creative ideas for DIY children’s playgrounds, there are loads of online resources and tutorials. I always recommend Pinterest as a particularly good website for finding inspiration. Make sure to save any old materials too, as you can usually find a way to recycle them into playground resources that children will love.
About the Author
Sam Flatman is an Educational Consultant for Pentagon Sport. Pentagon have worked with over 5000 settings to create innovative playgrounds and learning environments for young students. He has been designing playgrounds for the past 10 years and has a passion for outdoor education. Sam believes that outdoor learning is an essential part of child development, which can be integrated into the new school curriculum. He is currently based in Bristol with his two sons.