I would love to do more natural things with our backyard for my newly turned 4 yearold. I plan to hang some pots and pans to make a music area...any other ideas? I was also thinking a bean teepee, I have a terrible green thumb and so I'm not sure if that will work...
Stumps and stones. seriously, if I had a back yard DS would love just some stumps and stones.
Scroll down a bit on this page and you see the kids playing with pots and pans to make music.
A bean teepee mostly requires sun and water. I bet you can manage it.
Building a sandbox is easy, cheap and fun- something he will not only play with all the time, but he can help build it. My sons have a sandbox that was bought for them- IMO it was too expensive, and it has become too small. We will probably build one for our patio. My boys, ages 4.5 and 1, play in it ALL THE TIME. A rope swing rocks, and having their own garden is lovely too.
I recommend both of these books:
They contain specific ideas and instructions for the bean teepee and sunflower houses (which are wonderful in person). Check the library, too!
Mothering an Autumn (08) , a Spring (11) , and another Autumn! (Nov. 2013)
Taking what works and leaving the rest
We had one of these at our old house, but we are renting this house so have a regular water & sand table. DD loves it and plays with it daily once the weather is nice. She uses a variety of tea cups, bowls, pitchers and brings her wooden animals out too and they play in the water/sand. Very fun!
This year I plan on making an outside mud kitchen -- I'm going to gather some odds and ends, some old pans and whatever else and make a mud kitchen (we got the book for making mud pies for dolls, I forget the name?) Instead of bringing her kitchen outside, I'll just set up some stumps/rocks and she can use those, so excited for this!
We have a lot of potted herbs and kid friendly things. Anything can be picked/eaten.
A walking beam? Stepping stones?
I love tree swings, but now that we live in an urban area we only have a few small trees that wouldn't work. If you can swing it, do it!
I am such a dolt! We had a bean teepee - I just didn't know it could be used for play! Or that it even had a name! My boys and I built one to promote the vining of the beans. Seriously, these little guys worked their tails off building it! DS, then 7, chopped the limbs to length with his hatchet and was so proud of himself. We worked for a full afternoon guiding the little shoots up the teepee.....no wonder I kept finding the boys inside once it was a full blown bean encased hideaway. And I got cross with them. And told them to stay out of it. They were gorging on my beans. Looking back I can't believe I reacted in such a way! What a magical little 'fort' it must have been. My poor guys, we'll rebuild next season and I'll give them full access.
Mommarrific- I love the outdoor kitchen idea - I'm definately going to do that for my own and my daycare kids, we could use our skating bench as a platform. They would love it!
One thing my kids have always loved is rope. Lots of rope. They can tow things, swing from it, hang things, drag things, etc. (and back in their teething days it doubled as a useful teething tool and an interesting toy) Our kids loved our salty oily dock lines, they were nice and thick, could be pulled taut to swing and hang off of and apparently they tasted good : )
Garden trowels are great for digging, as well as 2 x 4's for balancing.