At-home Playground Ideas For The Backyard

Do you regularly take your children to the playground? With the pandemic circling the world many playgrounds have been shut down and families are stuck indoors. But if you have a backyard, you can create your own at-home playground for your kids to burn off excess energy!

Other than allowing children time to have unstructured play, there are developmental benefits to children playing at a playground. One area of development that playgrounds and outdoor play give children are the benefits of pretend play which helps develop the brain’s synaptic connections.

Benefits associated with playgrounds include:

Physical Development- Children develop better reflexes and controlled movement; an increase in flexibility, balance, and gross motor skills. Activities like climbing, swinging, jumping, and more increase muscle strength and improve bone density as well as increased heart and lung function.

Emotional Development- Playgrounds help children develop skills that can increase self-confidence and self-esteem. Pretend play on the playground helps children experiment with emotions and different feeling outcomes related to pretend situations. Playgrounds can be therapeutic for emotionally distressed children or children who have gone through traumatic events.

Social Development: Children get the opportunity to play alone which fosters independence while helping build creativity and imagination. Kids who observe other children on the playground learn social cues from their interactions. Playing with other children helps them learn social and cultural rules, verbal and body language cues, cooperation skills, self-control, and acceptance of others.

Cognitive Development: Playgrounds help children develop reasoning skills and language skills through problem-solving, focused attention, and behavior control. Children also learn cause and effect related to social relationships and the playground equipment itself.

Research found the following ways specific playground activities build cognitive development for children:

-Swings help children understand perceptual processes and their own body awareness

-Colorful playground decorations and activity panels (tic-tac-toe) help develop the understanding of shape, form, depth, size of tactile (touch) and visual perception

-Monkey bars and hanging rings help children understand spatial awareness and gravity

At-home Playground ideas

1. Trampoline

Whether you opt for a small or large size trampoline, they provide hours of fun. If you are worried about safety with your children, many large trampolines come with safety netting. Another option is to place the trampoline in the ground. However, this does require the extra work of digging a large hole and no freedom of moving the trampoline in the yard.

This is by far the best purchase I’ve made for my son with autism. He is a sensory seeker who needs to constantly play. Now, weather permitting we are jumping in the trampoline twice a day!

2. Swing

Swings are one of the easiest playground activities to add to your back yard! You can simply attach any type of swing to a sturdy tree and your child has a fun pass time. The back and forth motion of swings help children develop muscular strength in the back, core, and legs. They also promote spacial awareness as well as coordination skills.

Different types of swing ideas to add to your at-home playground:

-Saucer swing

-Climbing rope swing

-Trapeze bar swing

-Glider swing

-Flat swing

-Disc rope swing

-Bucket swing

-Tire swing

3. Sandbox

A sandbox is easy to install in a backyard. All you need is a wooden square frame and outdoor play sand. Then add in toys like plastic animals, sand molds, dump trucks, and more. Sandboxes allow children to use their imagination and participate in an outdoor sensory experience.

4. Water table

A water table can also be used as a small sand table if you don’t want to invest in a whole sandbox. There are many water tables for kids on the market that you can buy. However, you can always get creative and make your own with…

-PVC pipes

-An old coffee table and shallow plastic bins

-Large plastic storage container

5. Chalkboard wall

Chalkboard walls help foster imagination and the love of art. To add a chalkboard wall to your backyard just take a sheet of plywood and chalkboard paint. You can choose to attach the chalkboard wall to a wooden fence or simply lay it flat on the ground and store it away when your children are done using it.

6. Music activity center

A music activity center with everyday objects is the cheapest and easiest activity to make! All you need is a sheet of plywood to attach “musical instruments.” Musical instruments are any everyday object that will make noise!

Here are some great examples of everyday objects to use:

-Bundt pan

-Old pots and pans

-PVC pipes (different sizes will create different tones)

-Tin cans

-Metal colander

-Gelatin mold

-Drying rack

-Bell

-Pan lids

Don’t forget drum sticks like large spoons, whisks, and more! Children can experiment with cause and effect, different sounds, and understanding rhythm.

7. Climbing wall

A climbing wall can be made from rope or climbing stones attached to connected flat boards. Or go even simpler with a knotted rope attached to a sturdy tree branch. It all depends on your child’s capability of climbing. A climbing wall can be attached to an existing swing set, a wooden fence, or inside your house against a wall!

Conclusion

Children playing happily on a playground are doing more than just playing and creating memories. They are aiding to their social, emotional, cognitive, and physical development. Unfortunately, trips to the playground are likely on hold for many people due to the pandemic. But the activities above are sure to bring the enjoyment of a playground right to the backyard for your children!

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