The Power of Play at Home

Kiddie Car Wash

Avoid the costs of transportation and admission fees by bringing your own opportunities for play to home! As summer is upon us, transform your backyard into a play paradise to keep the kids close to home. Here are just a few tips to encourage outdoor activity and physical exercise right outside of your door!

Create a Backyard Play Area:
Bean Teepee

You probably remember building forts in your childhood out of miscellaneous items from around the house. Take that same imaginative spirit and channel it into a play space, or “room,” that creates an element of privacy in an open lawn. Instead of dragging your pillows and blankets out into the dirt, consider a few of these outdoor-friendly options:

  • Fabric teepee
  • Play house
  • Old tent
  • Umbrella
  • Canopy

Add a natural learning experience to creating your fort by setting up a children’s bean teepee. With just a bit more work than setting up an old tent, you will also reap the benefit of a crop of green beans or pole beans. Begin the process with 6-10 poles and string, preferably using bamboo poles. Make sure that your teepee is set in an area where it will have five hours of sun and is exposed to soil that is enriched with organic material. Once you set the poles up and connect them with string, plant a bean seed on the side of each pole and watch them grow up the teepee!

For more instructions on this play space: https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/special/children/childrens-bean-teepee.htm

Summer with a Splash:
Kiddie Car Wash

During the summer, it gets hot. Without access to a pool, kids will need a way to cool off from the exposure to the hot sun. Encouraging backyard water play with a few of these outdoor concepts is a great way to inspire safe, cool (literally) fun! Bring more water fun to your backyard with a few of these ideas:

  • A water fountain
  • A water table
  • DIY Slip ‘n’ Slide
  • Kiddie car wash

What exactly is a kiddie car wash, you may ask. For this project, you will need PVC pipes, a variety of joints, pool noodles, sponges and a few more items, which are listed in the directions below. With the attached poles and joints, water will freely spray through the hose connectors and onto the children playing below. Get creative with your car wash decorations! The more pool noodles and sponges, the better!

For instructions on building your kiddie car wash: http://www.momendeavors.com/2012/07/diy-kiddie-car-wash.html

Interact with Nature:
Butterfly

Just because school is out for the summer, does not mean that playtime cannot be a learning opportunity. Set up your yard to be an observation station for butterflies and birds alike. From planting flowers to building birdhouses, there are more than enough ways to bring wildlife right to your front door!

June 19-25, 2017 is designated as National Pollinator Week! Embark on this educational butterfly experiment in your own backyard! Make either a jar or a plate feeder, or both, including sugary solutions and fruit to attract the butterflies. Once you have decorated both feeders, with the directions listed below, observe which butterflies prefer which feeder and record it in the included observation sheet.

Directions on making your feeder: http://www.shareitscience.com/2016/06/the-great-backyard-butterfly-experiment-DIY-feeder.html

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