Monday, 17 June 2019

Encouraging Outdoor Play This Summer

*collaborative post
Apparently...summer is here! Though you would be forgiven for not realising it, given how dark and rainy the days have been here in the UK over the last week or two. No change there then!

But hopefully, we might see an improvement in the weather soon and I'm sure most parents would agree that one of the best things about summer is the opportunity for lots of lovely outdoor play for the children!

My three love nothing more than to get out into nature and explore, run free and just generally have all of the fun. Which is SO much easier and more enjoyable when the weather is more pleasant.

So with Summer in mind, I've been looking at some ideas for encouraging lots of fresh air and outdoor play over the coming months.

For Families With A Large Garden

If you're blessed with a decent sized outdoor space, then your options are pretty limitless. We were very fortunate growing up that we had a pretty huge back garden, and some of my favourite memories of outdoor summer activities were:

Playing Basketball

We had a basketball hoop in the back garden for years, and I absolutely loved going out there to practise shooting hoops after school. It was an activity that didn't require anybody else, I could have loads of fun doing it on my own and it was a nice way to unwind.

But I also have lots of great memories of basketball games involving the WHOLE extended family when they'd come over for BBQ's, too. If we had a large outdoor space, a basketball hoop would definitely be a feature.

A Good Old Fashioned Swing Set!

Although there are so many amazing and imaginative outdoor toys available now through some great sites such as Wickey, my favourite piece of play equipment will always be the swings. You just can't beat them!

We had a single swing when I was a child and I loved it – I would rush home from school every to head straight outside, sit on the swing and spend hours seeing how high I could go. As basic as our swing was, it loved and well used for many years. But of course, now you can get a huge range of swing sets which have far more bells and whistles than the one we had….including ones with slides, climbing frames and even bucket swings. I know my kids would absolutely love the one I’ve shared above…it’s definitely going on our “to buy” list for when we eventually move house! I’m sure it would provide hours of fun! 

A Paddling Pool

...or, if you really feel like splashing out, maybe even a hot tub! We always had a standard paddling pool and I would have happily sat outside splashing in it all day if I could have.

These days it's also really easy to hire inflatable hot tubs for just a weekend or a couple of days too, at some pretty reasonable prices - something worth considering next time we get a heat wave!

For Families With A Smaller Garden

If, like us, you live in a house with a much smaller garden space (or in our garden area at all, just a yard) then it can be much more difficult to come up with ways to encourage the children to play outside. 

Some of our favourite ways to utilise our garden space for the children's enjoyment include:

A Mud Kitchen

We got a small mud kitchen for a pretty reasonable price from Lidl. It doesn't require much space at all and it's lasted us for a couple of years now. The kids absolutely love using it for pretend play or making mud pies, and it's also a great place to make the dreaded slime too - no more indoor spillages!

Planting Boxes

My eldest son recently expressed an interest in growing some fruit and vegetables, and although we don't have a garden - this didn't mean we couldn't do exactly that.

We bought some planting boxes and have used them to plant a selection of fruit and veg for him to grow - this has been really useful in encouraging him to get outdoors and tend to his plants, and has also been a great way to get him interested in eating more veg too - win win!


Without a doubt, my kids favourite thing about our yard is the trampoline! It's only a small one, but it still serves its purpose and they don't seem to mind at all - they absolutely adore it! And it doesn't require any anchoring into the ground either, so perfect for those with a fully paved yard.

For Families With No Garden

When you have no outdoor space at all, it can be much more difficult to find ways to incorporate fun outdoor play into your routine but there are some ways to do it.

Pavement Chalking

Pretty much everyone will have some pavement somewhere around their home, so arm yourself with some pavement chalk and turn it into your own personal canvas! My kids love laying down on the ground and drawing chalk outlines to colour in, it keeps them entertained for ages.

You could also step it up and make Pavement Puffy Paint too by grating up the pavement chalk, and adding to a flour and dish soap mix. Just have a google for some recipes, there are tons online!

Frozen Treasure Hunt

Freeze a block of ice with some little trinkets hidden inside (little matchbox cars, yoyos, tiny figures...anything you have laying around that's small enough!) and take it outside to your nearest safe area to sit outdoors, along with a spoon or a kids hammer.

Let your little one go wild trying to smash the surprises out of the ice block. It keeps them entertained for ages and you don't need a garden to do it in, any little outside space will do - a front step works just fine!

I hope these ideas have been useful. What are your favourite ways to encourage outdoor play?

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