Friday, July 16, 2010

Fun Friday: Backyard Beach

Fun Friday activities are quick-and-simple ways to explore nature in your own backyard.

THE IDEA: Create a backyard beach nature play area

During the remodel of my step-mom’s secret garden, she found a family treasure – this bin that dates back to my great-grandfather’s family farm, which operated back in the '20s.


It’s a family heirloom to say the least, but one I felt deserved use by my own kids somewhere in our backyard.

After much consideration, I thought it’d be fun to dump some sand and plastic farm and sea creatures in the tub and see where the explorers took it.

OUR NOTES FROM THE FIELD
The first thing the big explorer did when he saw my little creation was to get inside it, which meant of course, that the little explorer wanted in as well. (And yes, the little guy is holding a snack container, which didn’t last long once the play got started.)


I’d left the sand toys close by, so the big explorer started showing the little guy the fine art of sifting.


It didn’t take them long to ask for water. After all, what’s a beach without some water?! They did a couple of things with it: First, they rinsed the plastic creatures they dug up out of the sand,


and then they dumped the rest into the bin (once they’d gotten out of it, of course!), creating a little pool of water next to the sand.


The big explorer hung out for a few more minutes showing the little explorer how to make tracks in the wet sand. Then he was lured away by the chance to play basketball with dad.

But the little explorer was nowhere near done.

He grabbed a stick and started stirring the water, put his animals back in and stirred some more. This intrigued him for what felt like forever.


Then he switched tools and began making tracks in the sand, creating new pools of water and finally … splashing!


An hour later, the backyard beach fun was still going on.

And the next day, the kids came back to play some more. In fact, this tiny beach is a space they now run to when we head out the back door. The big explorer has all kinds of ideas for play and the little explorer is more than happy to oblige.

TAKE-HOME TIPS
Provided you have some sand around (or can pick some up at a local home improvement store), this activity is pretty simple to recreate. I was especially amazed at how little space it took. For best results:
  • Get creative. I called my little creation a “beach” so the kids would see it that way, too. Take it one step further by adding favorite sand toys, buckets, water, sticks and other natural elements close by to encourage imaginative play.
  • If possible, build your beach in the shade. It’ll keep kids cool while still having access to the fun.

MORE IDEAS FOR OUTDOOR FUN

The warm days we’ve had this week have helped improve my mood (though I still long to be back in Yosemite) and make it easy to spend almost all day outside. Here are a few fun adventures you might want to try with the kids this weekend:
  • Build a fort, with help from the kiddos, of course!
  • Invite the birds into your backyard space by making birdseed cakes  
  • Create a nature mobile with your little one’s treasures from your yard or nearby nature
  • Make a butterfly tree that’s as fun for the kids as it is for the winged creatures!
Here’s wishing you a wonderful weekend – get outside and explore!

5 comments:

  1. I love how you set the stage, and then step back to see what direction your children go in their explorations!

    This is such a great idea, so simple in execution, but they get so much out of it!

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  2. @Crystal: The best part of all is that it takes up hardly any space, yet they love it! Just goes to show you don't need a ton of space to help kids enjoy some nature play. :o)

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  3. Great way to make such a fun and experiential activity for your kids! I hope it lasts long enough you can pass it down to them!

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  4. There is definitely sand in the air...or on the ground. This is a lovely post because it shows what fun can be had with even a little sand.

    It actually reminded me about my childhood. We had a big sandpit...yet our "seaside" was an old cherry blossom tree where we took shells to listen to the sea.

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  5. @Marc: Me too, though I'm just glad someone is finally using the thing!

    @Juliet: I was amazed at how much joy they derived from this tiny little bin. Sounds like you can relate, though!

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