Young children tend to have lots of energy and enjoy a variety of activities. Some of the traditional outdoor activities are still popular with children and give them the opportunity to use their imagination while getting fresh air and exercise. Just remember sunscreen, hats and suitable clothing in warmer weather.
A backyard with a few toys and some space will keep young children busy IMAGE:Marie Vonow
Sand pit Playing with sand can be soothing for children as well as a way to use their imagination. A sand pit can be made from splinter free sleepers or boards. Alternatively a paddling pool (the square type works well) can be filled with clean sand. Cover the sand pit with a tarp or similar when not in use to keep rain and cats off the sand.
A clam shell paddling pool has a built in lid. Fill one half with sand and when play time is over, close it up to keep the sand clean.
Plastic buckets and spades can be bought cheaply at bargain shops. Op shops often have interesting plastic bowls, jugs, cups, jelly moulds, flour scoops and sieves to use in the sand pit.
Cubby House A cubby house will provide hours of fun and be popular when friends come over to play. A second hand cubby is just as much fun as a brand new one. Keep an eye on sites like Gumtree and local notice boards and newspapers.
Second hand wooden cubby bought for $40. Image:Marie Vonow
An old rainwater tank can be converted into a cubby house if you have some handy person skills. Cut out a doorway and use some old garden hose, split to cover the rough edges. Alternatively, a door frame and door can be added if desired. For extra light add a window or skylight. Your children would love the addition of a small table and couple of chairs but donít provide too much. Let them use their imagination to convert cardboard boxes into furniture.
Cubby made from rainwater tank and raised. Image:Marie Vonow
Tents Children love tents. A basic 2 man tent is cheap and good fun. Even an old sheet or blanket slung over a rope tied between two trees and secured with tent pegs provides a sheltered place to play and stimulates imagination.
Water Play Outside is a great place to play with water and it doesnít matter if it gets spilt. A large bowl is good, a plastic tub from one of the bargain shops is even better. You can add a few drops of food colouring to the water for variety. A collection of unbreakable items similar to those used in the sand pit will provide hours of fun.
Simple equipment is all that is needed for water play. Image:Marie Vonow
Always supervise young children around water even if there are only a few centimetres in the bottom of a bowl. Empty the water out when play time is over.
Blowing bubbles Blowing bubbles is another fun activity. You can either buy commercial bubble blowing mix or make your own by mixing detergent and water. One recipe is 3 parts water, 7 parts water and 1 part glycerine. It will work without glycerine but the bubbles are stronger with it. There are many other recipes for homemade bubble mix on the internet and ideas for making stronger bubbles. Supervise younger children to ensure bubble mix isnít swallowed or splashed into their eyes.
Go Kart A go kart can be used by younger children if there are older ones or adults willing to push them. Older children, teenagers and even adults will also enjoy using a go kart if it is sturdy enough.
Outdoor activities donít need to involve expensive toys and equipment. In fact, simpler equipment tends to stimulate the imagination more.