This April 22nd is Earth Day 2019 (https://earthday.ca/) and the Canadian theme has been EarthPlay. It’s about having outdoor play for children to foster social connection, a sense of inclusion, resilience, health and their interest in the environment. You can also foster a sense of community if you run a street party for all the kids in the neighbourhood. And, of course, it all starts at home, in the yard or driveway.
Getting the young ones involved in Earth Day activities is a great way to kick-start their interest in being and playing outdoors on a regular basis. Here are some ways to not only get your own kids outside but all the kids in the neighbourhood to enjoy play outdoors together.
Loose Parts Outdoor Play
Earth Day Canada is promoting adventure parks for outdoor play at local parks. It’s the latest design concept in outdoor parks where loose parts maximizes children’s creativity, communication and social interaction.
In 2008, an observational study provided research on loose parts playgrounds showing that all children like to act out little dramas with each other on the playground. When loose play parts where added to static parts of the playground, the level of play became more dynamic where the children used the loose parts to create new play areas together and then played out new dramas within the new spaces created.
This sort of open-ended self-directed play is something where all the kids in the neighbourhood could benefit. If an Adventure Playground with loose parts is something that would make sense for your neighbourhood, it can start with smaller steps this Earth Day to get the kids involved and the neighbourhood too.
Loose Parts Outdoor Play at Home
Hosting an adventure playground in your own front yard and driveway is the place to start. Now that it’s spring, it’s time to do some spring cleaning and the best place to find some of those loose parts would be the garage. It is a good way to both de-clutter the garage and start gathering loose parts for a play area in your yard or driveway.
Finding loose parts for your outdoor playground at home consists of recycled materials that you already have lying around the garage. They can be everything from old tires, wood blocks, cardboard boxes, pvc piping or cardboard tubes, plastic bottles & caps, old wooden spoons, old pots & pans and old plastic bowls. From the outdoors, fallen branches and leaves, pebbles, larger stones, pine cones, dirt and water. Reclaimed wood pallets, bamboo poles, old blankets or fabrics, buckets, some plastic planters and other non-recyclable items make for better loose play items than more garbage for the landfills.
For toddlers and pre-schoolers, keep the pieces larger so that it’s not something that they will swallow. Anything reusable, flexible and either unbreakable or harmless if broken would work well for the loose parts playground. Be prepared that loose play items typically get damaged during play.
When it comes to storage, some playground pieces such as the branches, stones and pebbles can be stored outside in a designated play area. Other pieces such as recycled household items can be stored in large rolling bins or toy trunks so the kids can roll out all the pieces to the driveway or play area. With appropriate garage storage systems, large storage bins and storage bags loose play items can be stored easily so the kids can pull or roll these things out to play.
Storage bins can be stored on platforms. Otherwise, slatwall organization systems with camlock hooks can hang large storage bags of loose play parts. On rainy days, the kids can return wet and muddy loose parts with a minimal of clean up. Especially when a polyaspartic garage floor coating covers the cement floor of the garage, it makes garage floor maintenance simple. If you don’t have some of these standard storage components in your garage, you may want to consider a garage remodel or renovation this spring so the garage has a place for your children’s outdoor play toys.
Outdoor Play on the Street
To get outdoors, combining loose parts play areas with other outdoor activities is important. Riding bikes, scooters, skateboard and more can be a big part of spending time outdoors. Also, road hockey on quieter crescents or streets as well as basketball and skip rope on sidewalks or driveways are great outdoor activities.
This Earth Day, you can get the families on the street together, get a street event permit and have a street party. During the day, multiple play stations for the children could kick-start play dates amongst the families on the street with evening events so the entire family can participate.
Garage Remodel, Reuse and Renovation
Earth Day is a great way to kick off good habits for everyone to enjoy the outdoors. As we try to get our families connected to the environment, we can also get connected to our neighbours and community while decluttering our garage and re-organizing it so that we can reuse items for our children’s playtime.
To help the kids find places to put things back, consider a garage remodel or renovation so appropriate garage storage solutions can be designed. Contact us for a complimentary in-home consultation early to plan the timing of your garage interior design.