Friday, December 1, 2017

How To Make an Outdoor Play Space Affordably

For months now, I’ve been pinning outdoor spaces that allow kids to be kids—spaces that spark their imagination through building, playing and even getting dirty. Little by little it is beginning to come together and I want to show you what I’ve done so far. My goals were:

*  create a fun outdoor space where our grand kids can explore and play
*  use materials that can be used in a variety of ways
*  use as many natural materials as possible
*  make it as economical as possible

My first step was creating a mud kitchen. After looking over lots of ideas, I settled upon this picture as my inspiration:
We already had one old tire that we no longer needed (although I am not sure where it even came from), so I wheeled it over to our fire pit area one afternoon and measured the middle hole. Naturally, I forgot to write down that measurement before going to the store, but I found an oil drain pan in the auto supplies at Wal Mart that ended up being a perfect fit. AND, it was less than $3. I some cinder blocks behind our storage building and a piece of wood that used to be part of a pallet wood sign.
Dollar Tree was the perfect place to find a couple of storage baskets and a package of round food containers. I glued the lids on to serve as "burners" for a stove and gathered some old serving utensils that I no longer needed. We put some nails on the fence to hang the utensils.

Once we added a little sand to the water, the real fun began! Needless to say, it hasn't been this neat since!

Next up was a place to build. Tree trimmers have been working in our neighborhood for weeks, clearing branches from power lines. After seeing this stack of sycamore logs in front of an abandoned house, I talked my husband into helping me load a few to bring home.
I liked this wood because of the smooth bark that would be less likely to harbor splinters. I stood a few up to serve as stepping blocks and have plans to get a couple of the smaller ones chopped into smaller pieces for building with.

I love the way this one is organized, but it might be a while before I have something like that in place.
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Lastly, I went on a search for some type of durable road that could be used and stored outdoors. I have some road tape that we use inside from time to time, but it wasn’t at all practical for outdoor use. . . particularly over gravel. I did find one product on the market that was made of some sort of rubber sheeting and was designed for indoor or outdoor use, but it was very expensive and out of my budget for sure.

There just didn’t seem to be anything on the market that fit my needs, so you guessed it: I made my own.

I keep it outside hanging on the fence and the kids have used it regularly for a month now without any signs of wear and tear at all, other than a little dirt on the back. I even made miniature traffic signs that can be kept in the space as well.
This road set has been such a hit with the kids (ages 18 mos. - 11 years)! They  work both indoors and outdoors and can be arranged in a variety of ways. Another great thing about them is that they are wider than your typical "road tape", allowing for vehicles of different sizes.

I will be adding some road sets to the shop in the next couple of days, just in time for Christmas. If you hop over to my business blog, Dot To Dot Connections, you can sign up for email updates that will let you know when new products are added. You can also follow me on Instagram at both @Lsperki and @DotToDotConnetions.

I still have a few things I'd like to add to the space - perhaps some musical instruments, buildings for the streets and an art station - but, for now, I am certainly enjoying laying in our hammock with the kids play!
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