Early childhood educators know how to create inspiring outdoor play spaces for children on a tight budget so if you are looking for some ideas this blog is for you!
There is no need for big budgets or fancy materials, just a little outside the box thinking and commitment to upcycling and recycling! Some projects require a few basic handyperson skills but others anyone can do with a little hard work.
Outdoor play areas that draw children in to explore, experiment and build upon are those that usually have a mix of fixed spaces as well as lots of opportunities to access loose parts and open ended materials that they can move around, rearrange and add to the spaces in different ways to extend upon their play.
In my Empowered Educator Community on Facebook we have many hard working members who regularly share their outdoor play areas and projects with us and each month here on The Empowered Educator website we feature a collection of some of the wonderful ideas that have inspired us in the community – and I hope by sharing they also inspire you to perhaps try something different in your early childhood environment or backyard.
Keep in mind that everyone has a different space, skillset and budget to work with and the idea is not to feel overwhelmed with what others have created but to come away with a few basic ideas and a little inspiration to create something that might work for your play area in a different way.
So let’s take a wander through this month’s Outdoor Environments Inspiration. I can’t wait to share some of these inviting spaces and ideas with you!
Inspiring Outdoor Play Spaces for Children
Abigail arranges a few basic moveable items in different ways to create new challenges each week.
Misty shared her gorgeous secret garden with us. Her garden invites investigation and engagement of the senses...it includes a touch element, taste (fruit and vegetables) and smell (herbs).
How could children not want to reach out, touch and explore all those different textures!
Veronica shared these photos with us after updating her outdoor area. She introduced new shelves and plants, lots of new spray bottles, bowls, spoons, squeezing bottles and rocks, shells, twigs, and pine cones for their sand and water tables.
Jo set up this amazing construction zone play area. Can you imagine the role play?
Divina shared her spacious outdoor play area, complete with sensory bins and an outdoor kitchen. I love the simplicity and textural elelment of wood!
Erica shared her natural play space and outdoor kitchen - a wonderful little secret space at just the right height for toddlers.
Janelle shared her creative outdoor music hub - a great example of how to create a simple but fun learning and play resource using upcycled materials.
Melissa made an outdoor music wall - children can grab a few sticks and bang each item to produce different sounds.
I bet this secret cave in Jenny's outdoor play area is popular! Little imaginations thrive in outdoor spaces!
This pavement car space is such a clever idea shared by Natalie!
Renata from Renata's Family Day Care always impresses with her dedication to the creation of interesting outdoor spaces. This outdoor nook is a lovely calming space for children to have some quiet time on their own or with a special friend.
Teagan shared the beautiful outdoor space she created for the children to relax in and ignite imaginary play.
I'm a bit jealous of Jo's water wall! I would think that this is VERY popular in Summer.
Jade shared her engaging outdoor art area. I absolutely love the table - what a wonderful space to gather together and get creative.
Dawn created this oudoor 'house' made from upcycled materials. Such a clever and interesting use of windows to enclose the space!
Annette set up a pretend play camping area outdoors - what a fun invitation. I wonder what else children will imagine and create in this area?
Dawn calls this her 'pallet palace' - what a great way to upcycle pallets and turn them into a secret space at the bottom of the garden.
Candice provides access to a collection of loose parts materials for children to incorporate into their play in this outdoor space.
Elizabeth set up an outdoor river bed and sandplay area which has been a work in progress but she recently shared an update on this wonderful outdoor space with us..."Our river bed and sandpit are still used every day, the garden is growing and changing every day!"
Feeling inspired now to add something different to your own outdoor play space? Keep to 1 simple idea first, start small and embrace loose parts and natural materials...you can't go wrong with those basics...and they won't break your budget!
For even more outdoor play space inspiration you can use in your own environment, click or tap on the images below.
Are you a member of my Empowered Edcuator Facebook Group? Join now to connect with educators from around the world and find more inspiration and ideas.
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A Little About Me
Jodie Clarke is an early childhood professional supporting educators who want and need to stay passionate about the work they do! She has 30 years hands-on experience in the early childhood and human services sectors across many different roles.
Jodie is mum to 3 in Australia and has already helped thousands of educators with their work through her popular blog posts, activity ideas, online training and e-books.