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Grayson's Mom 05-29-2008 11:10 PM

What have you been making for your children to play with outside (using natural materials)? I have heard of sunflower tee-pees but have never seen one. Anyone want to share some pics of what you have been working on.

Has anyone got any information on Nature-scapes? My friend was telling me that she and her DH are going to make one for their kiddos but I was a bit confused. Has anyone made a nature-scape or a playscape?

I really want to build a sandbox (with cover) and playhouse for my girls (who are REALLY needing some outside activities to keep them busy) I am just waiting for DH to get motivated... :

autumnbloom 05-30-2008 04:34 AM

We have a trampoline that was given to us by a family friend who didn't want theirs anymore (it was on its way out to the trash. We've had to add a few patches, but for free, who cares! )

We are also building a playhouse near a big tree on our property.

I want to add in a tire swing or a wooden swing (not sure which one at this point)

We are going to forego the sandbox because we have so many neighborhood cats that would get in and use it for a catbox.

Instead though we have a water table, and also a kiddie pool

We also have a fun "silly sprinkler" thing that wiggles the water all over. THe kids love it!

I'd love to get a big slide too, but I think that's going to have to wait until we move into our next house. The kids have a LOT of fun right now playing in the yard, running, playing games, looking at the leaves & nuts & bugs & nature.... they ride thier bikes in the grass (i get nervous about riding in the street, so the grass it is for now LOL).

You can also make games into a big activity for them outside... red light green light, tag, water balloons or egg relays... so many fun ideas

red_trillium 05-30-2008 07:00 PM

our yard isn't very big(long skinny city lot) but i try to make it as fun as i can for the kids. this is only our second spring in this house, so we're still working on making it more fun, but here's what we've got so far.

i'm currently in the middle of building a water garden, which i'm hoping will be a great place for the kiddos to explore and play in. it's going to be about 7x12x2(only at the deep end, half will be only about a foot deep) with a little waterfall at the shallow end. i can see them in there a lot with little toys or whatnot playing in the waterfall. but, i guess this is better for older kids. i know when the little one is mobile i'm going to have to watch him like a hawk in the yard near the water. so i guess you'd have to outweigh the cons with the pros with a water garden. most will be planted up pretty well along the edge, and the flat parts i think i will get some planters to put up as a "road block".

we have a pile of stones that dd just loves to build with. she makes the coolest little castles with them. i like building stone sculptures too.

she also has out there all kinds of old baking things like my aluminum muffin cups, pans, spoons, etc. she'll gather her ingredients from the yard and then cooks them up. i need to get on building her a cooking table in a little "kitchen" area.

we have the garden which is always fun to watch all the things grow in. they each have their own shovels and tools and are welcome to plant anything anywhere they want in the yard. that keeps them busy a lot.

the thing that keeps ds's interest the longest is just our hammocks outside though. he really needs the movement and the enclosure sensation is perfect for calming him. i have them strung up with the ends pretty close together so they really encapsulate you when you get in! they are just the simple one person hammock, no spreadders. one is parachute fabric and the other woven cloth.

we also have the pets, which they love to play with outside. the dogs always go out with the kids, and we have a little movable pen for our two guinea pigs that the kids can sit in with them. i'm planning a small water garden/pen for our turtle too.

and of course, they love the swing set, but we didn't build that. it's just a simple metal one.

Grayson's Mom 06-01-2008 11:50 PM

Did some digging around tonight and thought I would share. Here is some info on sunflower houses...

Grayson's Mom 06-04-2008 09:17 AM

Yeah, DH finally made the sandbox using these plans and expanding them to 8'x8'

PassionateWriter 06-04-2008 12:09 PM

those sunflower houses are so cool! i think i may have time to plant some.

sunanthem 06-12-2008 12:05 AM

I planted a sunflower house this year, and a pole bean teepee. The sunflower house is not turning out as great, b/c not all the seeds came up. I have planted more seeds, but we'll have to see if there is enough to make a "wall".
On the other hand, the bean tee pee is growing like crazy and its fun to watch it curl around the poles. I just decided today to add some string back and forth between some of the poles, so the vines can climb on them and close in the sides. I will not tie up the lower half of one side of the teepee so that will be the door opening.

Also fun things for outdoors, tree stumps for sitting on/jumping off/ using as small table. An easy outdoor toy to make is a balance beam, and there are tons of plans for those on the net. We do have a sandbox that I made easily by nailing together 4 boards and filling w/ sand. Single swings are also quite easy to make and hang from a tree.

Think of Winter 06-12-2008 09:30 PM

Anyone made a teeter totter? A friend mentioned that she'd seen plans somewhere using a well cover for a crawlspace opening.

bluebird68 06-17-2008 08:02 AM

We made a "plank" (from a book whose name I can't remember right now) using an 8' x 6" piece of pine, with brackets of wood screwed on both ends (underside), and a set of brackets (for lack of a better word-- it's still early!) in the middle, which act as braces so that you can put one end up on a chair, log, etc, and make a slide, or brace it in the middle over a stump on side to make a teeter-totter, or put it up on stumps, etc, to make a ship-- you get the idea! It is one of my kiddos fav toys, and cost $8, plus some linseed oil. We sanded the wood like crazy, screwed on the wood pieces to act as lips underneath, and put several coats of linseed oil on. One of my fav ideas yet for an active toy. WE actually use it inside, but just moved to the country, so will have to venture outside with it. I think the book might be called Children of the Year. Good luck, and HTH! Michelle

wobblykate 06-18-2008 01:13 PM

My husband works in a preschool located in an urban area and they've been trying to "nature up" their playground for awhile. One of their projects was to take stumps and bury them in the ground with anywhere from 4" to 8" sticking out (as if the trees had been growing there and were cut that way). The kids LOVE to jump from one stump to the next. The other thing they've been thinking about is bamboo "walls" in moveable planter boxes that could be placed in different configurations. Since the bamboo poles would be anchored in the dirt of the planter boxes beans and peas could be trained to grow up them in the spring.

And boulders are fun for painting.

Grayson's Mom 06-20-2008 10:18 AM

Love all these ideas, Mamas! Especially the tree stumps!!! My hubby buried one in our sandbox, to act as a table, mountain or whatever. But I really like the idea of the stumps in a row for kids to jump from one to the next! Keep the ideas coming. Also, if anyone has pics to share, I will thank you forever!!!

binxsmom 06-20-2008 11:00 PM

roots, shoots, buckets & boots. this is an awesome book filled with great ideas like the sunflower house and vine tee pee.

also, a great idea from the creative family is the banging wall. i really wanna do one of these this summer. so cool.

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