Over Easter we visited one of our favourite places to go on weekends – Bunnings! This will come as no surprise to those who have been following our landscaping and playspace articles. I do try to use mostly recycled materials but there are also bargains to be had in the shops if you know where to look! And I am always buying more plants and seedlings.
The twins had lots of fun with the facepainting, meeting the Easter Bunny (and quickly swiping a small fistful of chocolate eggs!) and doing some Easter craft. I really love free children’s entertainment so I make the most of where I find it.
Another thing the girls love to do there is wander the aisle with the kid’s play forts, swings etc. They were really drawn to this little area that had a shelf in front of a window space and immediately began asking us to come see their ‘cafe’. I was really surprised at how quickly they entered their imaginary world and how excited they were about this tiny little space underneath a climbing fort.
His patient self and I weren’t about to hand over hundreds for this sort of play equipment but as we looked at each other and examined the cafe in more detail I could tell we had both thought the same thing “We could make one of these easy!”
And so the idea for our next project using pallets for the outdoor playspace had already begun to grow! I love the excitement of a new project.
That afternoon his patient self headed out to the industrial estate with the girls and his trailer. After a drive around he came home with some beauties.
Keep in mind that many businesses keep their pallets to recycle within their company but usually if they want to get rid of them they will put them out close to the footpath for collection. His patient self works in this industrial area so he knew where to go but if you keep an eye out while you drive around on weekends I’m sure you will find some too.
After carefully pulling the pallets apart and removing all of the nails (most of which he keeps if not too badly bent from extraction) it was time to pick the perfect spot and discuss design (or perhaps wonder why he wasn’t sitting down having a break for the long weekend….)
We decided to back the cafe onto the existing pallet fence to save having to also build a back wall. Then it was just a matter of putting up a basic frame for the walls and roof to be added. The twins were pretty happy with just the frame and went into cafe mode for a while until I mentioned Daddy hadn’t quite finished yet!
Once the frame was up it was time to nail on some plywood to form the walls. We had this down in our garage from an earlier project but you could use pallet timber or even material if you wanted.
An old bit of corrugated iron picked up at our local dump revolve centre made an easy roof. Sloping it will help the rain to run onto the pallet fence garden directly behind the structure.
He added a few pallet lengths to the front to form a basic bench seat and then decided to use a few more on an angle from the roof to form an awning! He definitely had a vision he was working to and I really couldn’t believe he got it all done in an afternoon.
There is a huge window space, a few little shelves inside on the walls and a benchtop or ‘servery’!
The girls had been busy amusing themselves with the hammock swing but came running quickly when i mentioned the cafe was nearly finished!
We could have left it as is, I like the natural look of wood but pallet timber isn’t the strongest and it is a good idea to seal it in some way to help protect from the elements.
So the next day I got busy with the twins who helped me paint it. I’m yet to do a second coat but it is hard work painting a house with 2 three year olds ‘helping’ and I needed a little break 😉
The reason it is pink or ‘red rum’ as the tin says is because we picked up this tin of good quality exterior paint very cheaply as a mistint in Bunnings years ago and often use it for outside bits and pieces to save spending more money. I probably wouldn’t actually choose that colour but you work with what you have and it’s not like the kids care!
We also have a tin of chalkboard paint that seems to be bottomless so I decided to add a little to each side wall to add to the play experience. It’s proving very popular so far so I have convinced myself it was worth all the black streaks through my hair….a little tip, paint from the bottom up, not top to bottom and have your hair scrape down the sides as you bend over! Live and learn my friends!
The girls decided they needed a ‘cooking kitchen’ to make their hot food in for the cafe so I brought over the pallet sand kitchen
and they began setting it up straight away.
They brought out what seemed like endless supplies from inside and the verandah and told anyone who would listen that the needed to set up their cafe now. I just sat back and watched in awe as they organised. Sometimes I really do catch myself wondering where my little babies went so quickly!
They also set up a little table and chairs out the front but I forgot to get a photo of that addition. Apparently it was better for the cups of tea and cakes.
They had all the things a good cafe needs…a phone, a microwave inside, an old keyboard, cutlery tray, blender to make fruit smoothies, special cakes, milk and cups for tea and coffee.
They also added a dish for money…perhaps it was meant to be a tip jar 😉
It really was special to watch them immerse themselves in their play and another little world and I think there was one pretty proud Dad watching too!
I asked them what else their cafe might be and Tara said ‘Corner Shop’ which I found interesting since they seem to be becoming a thing of the past nowadays.
So we had a little search inside and came back to set up the corner store.
I got this 2 pack of trays on clearance for just $6 and knew they would be perfect to create the feel of a market or corner store. The girls helped me sort some vegetables, fruit and flowers into one tray and some ‘groceries’ into the other.
It was a great opportunity to talk about ‘everyday foods’ and ‘sometimes foods’ as we included cakes and pizza along side the eggs, milk and cheese.
A few shopping baskets and they were ready to do some serious shopping. There was lots of chatting about what they were buying and what they could make with their goodies. They took their laden baskets over to the cars and drove off “to make dinner”.
I’m not sure what we are calling this new addition to the yard yet because it is such an open ended piece of play equipment. So far it has been a cubby for the dolls, a supermarket, a corner store, a hospital, a florist and a cafe.
Perhaps we won’t label it for now as the possibilities really are endless…a little like a child’s imagination if given the opportunity to use it….
What would your child make this into first do you think?
If you like projects with pallets you might find the posts below helpful (just click on the picture).
How does this activity promote learning for your child?
- It encourages outdoor play and exploration using thinking skills and gross motor muscles.
- It provides a launchpad for children to use their imagination and direct their own play.
- It provides an opportunity for self expression and role play of current events in their life.
- It encourages use of language, social skills and turn taking.
- Depending on the use of the area it can provide opportunities for sorting and classifying (groceries, fruit and veg, flower colours etc) and counting (money, cakes, biscuits etc).
- It allows them to explore roles within the community (grocer, doctor, cafe owner, vet…the list is only determined by their imagination!)
- It encourages an awareness of sustainability and recycling in older children.
- It’s fun in the fresh air!!
How does this activity link to EYLF Outcomes?
( The Early Years Learning Framework for Australia)
In my personal planning I would interpret play experiences with this equipment as reflecting the following outcomes……
Outcome 1- Children have a strong sense of identity.1.2, 1.3,1.4
Outcome 2 – Children are connected with and contribute to their world 2.1,2.2,2.4
Outcome 3 – Children have a strong sense of wellbeing 3.1,3.2,
Outcome 4 – Children are confident and involved learner s4.1,4.2,4.3,4.4
Outcome 5 – Children are effective communicators 5.1,5.3,5.4,5.5
More ideas and support below!