This post is part of the Outdoor Learning Event sponsored by Biddle and Bop, MyMayu, and Water & Lightning! Visit the event page to enter our amazing giveaway!
Water. Loose Parts. Plant Life.
What do these three things have in common? Well, they’re three essential components of an absolutely amazing outdoor playspace! SO much learning happens when your child is exploring nature and manipulating the materials that they find interesting. Observing bugs, digging in the earth, comparing leaves, transferring objects, pouring water… think of how many different brain processes are taking place when your child is doing all of these play-based activities outside!
Now, I know that not everyone lives where they can get to the woods or mountains or beaches within a reasonable distance, so here are my top three tips for creating an outdoor playspace at home that can mimic a natural landscape and give your child all of those beneficial opportunities to play and explore. (All of these can be easily adapted to suit every space, from the smallest of apartment balconies to the biggest yards!)
I know this sounds like a muddy mess waiting to happen, but access to water is a crucial part of an outdoor playspace. Set up a rain barrel or even a bucket of water and give your child scooping and pouring tools. They can mix it in with their loose parts play, water their plants, or just splash around – but so much learning happens in this area!
Make sure your child has access to natural objects that they can manipulate and transfer. Rocks, logs, sticks, pinecones, etc. are all excellent loose parts! Along with the loose parts, provide your child with utensils and containers that they can scoop, transfer, pour, and build.
Whether it’s a vegetable garden, a flower garden, weeds, or even a few herbs in pots, giving your child access to plants is an excellent way for them to interact with nature on a daily basis. Try to set up a space where the child can have free access to play with the plants however they want. Don’t pressure the young child to “look, not touch” or be super careful around them. Let them have the freedom to explore.
Remember – it’s not the size of your outdoor space that matters, it’s what you do with the space that you have! A child’s imagination is not limited by their physical space. If you’re looking for more great ideas for an outdoor play space (and want to see where some of my inspiration comes from), check out my Outdoor Pinterest Board.
I would *love* to see pictures of the spaces you’re creating! Please tag me on social media (@yournaturallearner on all accounts) or, better yet, come join my FREE Facebook group and share your pictures with other families waiting to be inspired! Join HERE.
Have fun creating!