Risky Play has been one of those terms parenting experts have been throwing around a lot lately. I think we have all seen the video of the playground in New York where it looks like the kids are playing in a junkyard and no parents are around. The fun that the kids are having is apparent in their faces but we have yet to find a park like that in Alberta and realistically no one wants all that junk in the backyard.
A few weeks ago we posted on Instagram (If you aren’t already following us on Instagram you can do that here) a few videos of Deanne’s kids playing in the backyard with tree stumps and boards. We had so many questions about it that we decided to write a “how to” for you to bring more risky play into your backyard without it looking like a junkyard.
- Find the right materials – I chose to use lots of natural materials with a few man made items thrown in. Our neighbors were cutting down a huge tree so they let me take a couple of tree stumps from them. The tree stumps are awesome for making balance beams, jumping over, rolling on etc. If you live in a newer area or can’t find someone cutting down a tree milk crates also work well. The other boards are old fence pieces and the sticks are just branches cut into smaller sizes so the kids can move them around easily. If you don’t have a fence to cut apart you can get boards from a hardware store for under $5 a piece. I recommend getting a variety of widths and lengths.
- Add some colour – Along with the more natural materials I add in some things that are lighter and brighter. Pictured below is a concrete tube form (sturdy enough to stand on but light enough that the kids can move it easily) wrapped in yarn collected from thrift stores and garage sales. The PVC pipe is a central vaccuum pipe which is cheaper than regular plumbing PVC pipe especially if you want to add the joints and elbows. The kids love running water through the pipes, string, and adding it to their obstacle courses.
- Give them a start and then step back and let them lead – The next step is the hardest part. We helped the kids get started by moving the heavier logs around but then we left them to it. By letting them play and discover on their own they did the challenges and played with the materials based on their skill level. You can see the progression below as he learned to walk across the board from one end to the other. After he felt comfortable walking across he started to try to balance his weight in the middle lifting both sides up.
- Add things throughout the summer – After you have the basics and they have played for a while challenge them by adding new things. We added a pylon, a ball, different lengths of board, hammers, and nails this summer and they have had a blast.
We’d love to see your risky play spaces! Use the #albertamamas hashtag on Instagram to show us or post a photo to our Facebook page.
Deanne Ferguson is the owner of Box Social Event Planning. When she is not planning fun, family, friendly events she is finding the yummiest food for the Edmonton Home and Garden Show Food Stage. She loves her #cocktailsMonday dates with her husband and chasing around her two boys. You can find her at @DeanneFerguson on Instagram and @BoxSocialYEG on Twitter.