PC: Pricilla Westra
As a mom, I find myself striving to make my house a home. I love busying myself with home improvement projects, gardening, and uncovering the best find at my local thrift store knowing I can incorporate it into my home somehow. But it's not too often that I ask myself how I can make my home, or yard, more (fun)ctional for my son. This got me thinking, how can I create something wonderful for all of us to enjoy that is right outside our front door? What outside spaces would my son enjoy that could be used for multiple purposes by the whole family? Many of you readers may have other children, or many children of all ages. Here is how you, too, can get your children involved in creating a functional outdoor space!
Ask for their opinion
Children's voices are valuable, yet we, as adults, tend to undermine their opinions on occasion. This doesn't happen because we believe we are superior, necessarily, but it happens! Our voices become louder than theirs, and we rarely weigh their opinions as heavily as our own. But when it comes to creating the perfect, functional, family-friendly outdoor space, their thoughts could come in handy! Maybe you have a spacious, forested backyard to work with, or maybe you have a small corner of dead grass. Either way, your kids will be delighted that they get to "help" make an exciting outdoor space for the family. Ask your children what activities they have dreamt of doing. Ask them what they would like to learn how to do. For example: Your child(ren) express to you that they would like to start having s'more nights (who wouldn't!), and they want to turn that little dead corner of the yard into a functional space for creating the ultimate gooey s'more. This small idea could really turn into some lasting family memories and fantastic learning experiences!
Get them involved
Let your kiddos be involved in this family project every step of the way; from making a list of materials needed to create the cul-de-sac's best ever fire pit, to shopping and even building! Give those kids some shovels, gloves and loads of encouragement. They will never forget the memory of building the family fire pit!
Whatever outdoor space you create, learn from it!
Pull out those sneaky ninja-mom skills that you use every time you successfully hide vegetables in your kid's dinner, and take this opportunity to make learning fun! There is sure to be plenty of math, communication, teamwork and logic involved while you're planning and building your outdoor space. This type of learning is called "Experiential Learning" and focuses on learning by doing! It is a great way to keep your children's minds active, while they are learning extremely valuable lessons! And once you're done building, the learning doesn't stop! For example: You build the fire pit and you're ready to use it! You think the learning part is over, but it's really just beginning. You can do a variety of different family activities that you all can learn from. Here are some ideas: Activity 1: Learn about fire safety. Activity 2: Learn how to build and put out a fire. Activity 3: Use your imagination! Have everyone invent their own perfect s'more using different candies, crackers and cookies. Show them off and enjoy! Activity 4: Learn about different methods to start a fire without a match (flint & steel, bow drill, hand drill, etc.). Activity 5: Learn how to make tinfoil dinners. Activity 6: Learn about flammable materials and make a family emergency plan in case a fire starts in your home.
This is just one idea of a functional outdoor space that everyone could enjoy from start to finish! Do some research on other great ideas that suit your family's needs. Having a place to gather in the outdoors is a refreshing and much needed space that everyone will enjoy!
Written by Lindsay Helm