There is an awesome article in the Atlantic called “The Overprotected Kid.” It’s in the same vein as Lenore Skenazy’s book Free-Range Kids (which, I love). And it preaches a message that I think cannot be overemphasized in today’s culture.
The author starts by describing an adventure playground in Wales where kids build stuff and start fires and play in the creek, and it made me LONG for a decent playground near me. Heck, I’d settle for a park that actually had children at it.
But the description made me determined that this summer, I want our yard to be an adventure playground for my son and the only 3 kids that ever leave their home in our neighborhood.
1. SAND and water
I finally feel like I have enough money to do a sand box the way I think sand boxes should be: by the dump truck load. Since we have no natural water on our property (and sand and water go together like a glove on a hand), I’ll put a baby pool or some other type of tub (if I can find something stronger and better than said baby pool) next to the sand.
2. Tools and Wood
Somehow my little handsaw got lost or stolen, so I’m going to replace that (which worked better even for me than a full-size saw much less for Caleb’s little hands) and add a sharp hatchet to the mix together with various hammers and a collection of nails.
I’ll also keep a supply of my scraps handy where the kids can get to them and use them. And I want to do better with collected trashed wood and pallets to have more wood he can use.
3. Rope Swing
For a while, there was a grape vine hanging down from our one big tree that the kids could swing on, but being a vine, it dried out and broke. I want to get a good rope hung up with some knots to stand on and swing.
4. Buckets, shovels, and the like
I recommend a short wooden handled metal shovel. This has a pointed digging tip, and it is shorter than a regular shovel, but it is NOT a “kids” shovel. Those things are cheap and will barely see you through a summer. You can find these short handled real shovels at any major retailer.
Buckets should also be tough, with sturdy handles. Those beach buckets aren’t going to cut it. Keep an eye out for empty containers too.
Of course, we also live on a wooden little mountain that the kids can hike and play on as well. And there are the dirt piles on the street above ours that the town workers use for filling in holes and whatnot.
Let me know of other things that you think would be great for our “adventure” yard, and I’ll post updates on our progress.