If the front yard is all business — The nicely mowed and manicured façade we show to the neighbors — then the backyard is a place to party. I don’t mean with red shiny cups and poor judgment. Behind the house is the place to let your creative side out along with the dog.
Backyards have been designed to be kid-centric for a long time. It’s the home of jungle gyms and tree swings. They can have wild gardens, chickens, or bees and they are perfect places for pretend play.
Since the potential for imaginative play is so great, let’s go beyond the common swing set to spaces for kids that are a match for the best nerdy backyard endeavors. Here are some hangouts truly worthy of your backyard explorers.
A Tipi for Backyard Nomads
I’m told there was an incident when I was four that involved me crawling into a toy store display tipi and refusing to come out in a voice that my dad reports, sounded more like a Velociraptor’s than his kid’s.
This Children’s Backyard Tipi is equally shriek-worthy. It’s lightweight and easy to set up. It’s also water repellent and mildew resistant so your kids will be surrounded by the scent of the great outdoors and not mold. Don’t blame us if you have trouble extricating the little Velociraptors.
Climbing Walls for the Little Monkeys
Then there are those kids who are less inclined to snuggle up and tell ghost stories and more likely to scale the walls out of boredom while you tend to the weeds. Let them.
This is less a hangout and more of a workout but I’m a sucker for a good climbing wall.
There are a lot of climbing structures you can buy like this one. You might be the type of person who doesn’t want a plastic monolith taking up most of the yard. If you’re one of those folks, you can take little climbers to a park. Many are now installing climbing features.
Or you can go the D.I.Y. route and put up a climbing wall using an existing wall and colorful climbing holds for kids.
A Sandbox for Scallywags
If at your house International Talk Like A Pirate Day is a bigger deal than all other holidays combined, I recommend pirate ship playhouses. Daniels Wood Land has the Scallywag Sloop. You can also go much simpler and build one. There’s a good example from Mom and www.bunch.com contributor, Kelly.
If you happen to have been a pirate in your younger years — or if you happen to have an old boat lying around for some other reason, that works too. Not recommended for landlubbers.
Nooks for the Bookworms
Listen up my fellow bibliophibians. A little while back Pottery Barn Kids and PBS Kids had a Book Nook Challenge. They asked six well-known bloggers to create a book nook using their favorite Pottery Barn Kids products. I fell in love with all of them of course but my favorite was this one because it’s outside. If your kid’s love of reading is only matched by her love of the outdoors, a backyard reading space might be the way to go.
Going Au Naturel
Natural playscapes are increasingly popular as parents look for inexpensive and eco-friendly ways to entertain children. So what’s a natural playscape? Think of it as nature’s playground. Kids love playing on boulders, drift wood and tree stumps. Doing so is good for their cognitive development and it helps them connect with the natural world around them. No slides, no monkey bars just them and the elements.
Now that all sounds fun but what if you don’t happen to have perfectly spaced tree stumps for your kids to jump between? What if your yard didn’t come with a koi pond? No problem. Any hardware or landscaping store can help you out there. You could go on a neighborhood scavenger hunt for unwanted trees but lumberyards are usually willing to part with a log or two and that’s definitely the way to go if you’re looking to avoid termites and dangerous beetle larvae… and you are.
If you’re looking for something a little more structured a garden fort is a good idea that you and the yard will be happy with.
Let us know if you have any other quirky kid-worthy hideouts, forts, or nooks we should know about.