5 S's of outdoor play for children - Bubbablueandme

The best outdoor play equipment for young children

I’ve had this post in my mind for ages, but now’s the time to get round to writing it given we’ve had some beautiful weather for the start of June. We’ve been enjoying the garden more especially after work and after nursery.  But it definitely helps having the right outdoor play equipment suitable for your age of children.

Climbing frame saga

The big news for us was that finally N’s climbing frame has been built.

I was bought in December in readiness for a joint birthday and Christmas present, and delivered in early February. It took so long because they only deliver when they’ve got more than one in the area (we’re only an hour or so away, not the other end of the country), and I wasn’t going to be in on any of the days they proposed. Then of course, was the debate on how to build it. I’d planned to build it myself. I can do flat pack with no problems, so why not a climbing frame. Until it arrived with minimal holes pre-drilled and no labels to say which wood or screws were which. Three hours later I didn’t have much more built than 4 uprights, a platform and a few rungs in place.

Next I planned to get my brother to help, but weather and coordinating dates just didn’t work. So it’s been in pieces in the garden for months.

Then my father-in-law and sister-in-law’s father gave it a go, and built half of it. But the strong winds caught it and knocked it over, with nailed in rungs of the monkey bars coming apart. I was despairing that we would ever get it built. Eventually, the OH must have got bored of seeing it in pieces in the garden, and yesterday we arrived home to find him building the rest of it. The only bits missing were the anchors which we can’t get in the ground (usual lack of farmer concern about health and safety).

Dunster House climbing frame

N was excited, and it looked great. My next step is a shed so I can’t tidy up all the outdoor toys and get them out of the utility room and playroom.  It’s just deciding on where and what sort to get, and what won’t create an eyesore because it would need to be on the grass and visible rather than on the gravel at the corner out of sight which floods in bad rain.

Since I bought the climbing frame, I thought lot about outdoor play and what outdoor toys are brilliant for children of all ages.  There might be water tables, croquet, bikes, scooters and climbing frames, but it comes down to the 5 S’s.

Outdoor play equipment for children

5 S's of outdoor play for children - Bubbablueandme

1. Slides

Children love slides*, and you can’t go wrong having one in the garden.  They’re great for gross motor skills for toddlers learning to climb steps, brilliant for preschoolers testing out the best footwear for climbing up the slides, and of course older children like to experiment with different ways of sliding down.  N is definitely loving his wavy slide, after his old second hand faded toddler slide was broken by one of his cousins not realising how fragile it way.

2. Swings

N does love swings and we do have an ancient plank of wood one down by the farmyard, hanging from a tree branch.  Hopefully with the adjustable ones on the climbing frame, he’ll get the hang of body movement making himself swing, rather than just sticking his legs forward and back.

playing on the swing in the garden at the farm

3. Sand

Sand always makes you think of summer, and when you’ve sunny weather, a sandpit is a brilliant draw for kids of all ages.  We don’t have a sandpit (he gets to play in them at both nurseries, and bring all the sand home in shoes, trouser hems and toys that he’s taken to nursery).

4. Soccer

Well football, but that doesn’t fit my list!

Most kids (and big kids) love a kick around and it’s great fun whether there’s only 2 of you or a whole garden full.  A few years ago at a family party, we had a mass football game in the garden.  It was very amusing watching the dads thinking they were brilliant, being totally wiped out by the kids. It doesn’t take much to add a football goal* and ball.

5. Swimming (or paddling) pool

Not many of us get to have a swimming pool in the garden, but a paddling pool is essential during hot summer months.  We have a great little frame one that N loved last year.  Unfortunately it doesn’t get brought out often due to the fact that it takes forever to be filled, especially because the outdoor tap on our house is on the side of the garden which is the lodgers’ (they’re in the converted garage).  So we have to do a bit of a steal and borrow their hose.  It’s a real treat when it gets brought out though.

paddling pool fun

There’s lots more outdoor activities we love to do…I can’t wait until N can throw a frisbee.  That’s great of an evening for a bit of exercise.

What would you have on your outdoor toys or equipment list?

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  1. Your garden looks positively idyllic and that is one epic climbing frame. High five for even trying to put it together. I did a degree in civil engineering and I’m still allergic to things like that! I’m now wondering if I’d actually enjoy it… bit of problem solving?! You should have got a gang of mums over and used it as a bonding exercise?! Haha!

    I digress…love your 5 s of outdoor play and a few pointers there in terms of learning and development that I hadn’t realised.

    Thank you for linking up to #TheList xx

    1. It is a great garden for playing in, although it really needs someone in to make it into a pretty garden. That’s not my cup of tea, but it’d be nice to have a lovely garden to sit in.

      I like the female building session. Instead of a painting party, have a building party!

      Thanks for stopping by Hannah. Was hoping to say hi at Britmums, but didn’t get the chance. Maybe next event

  2. Swings and slides are the definite FAVS at our house! Oh the swing has caused many a tantrum too! Pinned to my Activities for Kiddies board on

    1. Oh dear. So often there’s only 2 swings, so having more children is probably a nightmare when they all want to go on the same one. N’s not got the hang of swinging on his own yet, so I’m hoping he does that soon to give my back a break.

      Thanks for stopping by

  3. If you’ve got those 5 things covered, I think you’re pretty much set for every summer until they’re 13.

    Phillip has been building a playset since we don’t have a good flat area for a storebought one (and we can’t find one we like and we don’t want to pay up the nose for it) – custom designing that thing from scratch has been a bear! We’ve finally got the swings up now, so it’s looking like a proper playset with a slide, firepole into the sandbox, monkey bars, and swings. Next year: there will be a treehouse connected to it.

    1. That’s what I’m hoping. Definitely with the climbing frame, although being on a farm, I think he’ll be off working on it, and driving cars around by that stage.

      Sounds like yours will be amazing. I think custom is brilliant – I’m wishing we’d done a play house now, because that can convert as they get older, but the climbing frame should entertain for a while.

    1. Lol. I’m ok with flat pack, but this really wasn’t. Should have taken note of the ‘might need some experience’ and 10 hours work! Still, I had to learn to use a drill – brilliant fun.

    1. We are really lucky. It’s a great space for children, although it’s still after 14 years, very much like a paddock. I really should get someone in to landscape it a bit and start me off

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