Outdoor Chalk Boards

An outdoor chalkboard is another project I have had on my to-do list for a while. I love the idea of children having lots of writing and drawing opportunities outdoors.  I often find that writing naturally flows outside without the pressure of a classroom environment or the constraints of A4 paper.  Chalk is inviting too, because of its non-permanent nature and its accessibility for little hands. (In fact, Mr 2 drew his first “people” pictures on the chalk board! See bottom left picture.) Continue reading

Backyard Letterbox

I have long had the idea of putting an actual letterbox in the backyard for the kids to use.  FINALLY I got around to it.

Letter writing is such a great, purposeful literacy activity.  It provides a reason to write, and an incentive to write well because you want the recipient to be able to read their letter when they receive it!

I picked up this letterbox from our local (big green) hardware store for around $12.  It’s nothing fancy, but it does the job perfectly and we don’t need to worry about it being able to withstand the conditions outside.  We simply screwed it to a low, existing sleeper wall beside the dirt kitchen.

It has already been more than worth the money!  The kids have written so many letters to each other, to Mummy and Daddy, and to friends who have come over to play.  Writing them is fun, reading them is fun, checking the mailbox is fun, and delivering the mail is fun. Of course, everyone participates at their own level.  Miss 5 has been doing some great early writing, using her sound-letter knowledge to have-a-go at writing independently.  She has also worked hard to decode the simple letters I have posted to her.  Mr 2 has enjoyed being the mailman, and posted some excellent scribbles to his sister!

If you are looking for an inexpensive, non-permanent, interactive addition for your backyard or playspace… try a letterbox!  It provides a lovely way for siblings or parent-child to communicate, promotes early reading and writing, and gets kids outside. Ticks all my boxes :-)

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Playscape: Nature Cubby

This year I am working hard to improve our backyard, and create a playscape rich in natural opportunities for learning, discovering, playing and growing.

When we added our Dirt Kitchen to the backyard last year, you might remember that I started training a vine into a roof of sorts.  Here’s an image of it in August, 2010:

It was growing so well that it began to weigh the strings down, so I started thinking about ways to prop it up. Then wandering the aisles at Bunnings (as you do…) I found this arch for under $10.  I figured it was worth a try, and it turns out it was perfect for the job. I didn’t want it to be the full height, so I just left a few pieces off.  Then I went back to Bunnings and bought a second one!!

Look at it now!! With all the rain we’ve had in Brisbane, most plants have seen rapid growth.  Instead of just a roof, now we have a whole nature cubby growing.  Every day we see new growth, and the kids and I are enjoying winding the tendrils around the arches to create our walls and roof.  That “shady space” I said I was dreaming of back in August is looking like a reality – and all for the grand sum of $20. Bargain.

Stay tuned for more posts about our nature cubby, this interesting vine, and the creatures that are making this cubby house their home.

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