Natural Play Areas for Kids

There are countless ways for children to interact with the outdoors, especially during the warmer months. No matter your child's interest, it's fairly easy to create safe, natural play areas that spark imagination through exploration, discovery and adventure.

Here are some ideas for different play areas to encourage the spontaneous play that's vital for a child's growth and development.

A Critter Habitat

Create a backyard critter habitat to give children a chance to discover a wide array of creatures like worms, frogs, butterflies and birds. You can use bird feeders and native plants for food and nesting materials. Birdhouses, stumps, logs and rocks can also be used for shelter and cover for habitants. Make sure you provide water sources too, such as a birdbath or shallow pond.

An Edible Garden

Grow fruits, herbs and vegetables in a sunny area of your yard, in raised beds or in clay pots for a fun, hands-on activity that comes with a future reward - the harvest. Your child can help decide what to plant, and also help with day-to-day maintenance tasks like watering.

A Construction Zone

Children love to build things of all shapes and sizes, so designate an area specifically for construction and stock it with an assortment of natural building materials such as straw bales, cardboard boxes, outdoor fabric or burlap, rope or twine. You can also include other natural materials like sticks, pine cones, leaves and seashells for use.

A Sand Pit

A classic backyard favorite, sandboxes are a great way to keep kids engaged and entertained for long periods of time. For your own DIY sand pit, fill a beam, log stump or stone sandbox filled with play-grade silica sand. Provide shovels and buckets so children can sift, dig and mold the sand into any number of shapes.