Children love an outdoor space were they can play without thinking about mess and mud. A tinkering space in the garden is perfect for them to play, explore and create.
A tinkering space in the garden
A tinkering space is a designated area for messy play, sensory exploration, building, tinkering and pretending. It is an outside studio for your children and their friends to gather and create. There is so much learning, negotiating, playing, confidence-building, language development, and making happening there all the time. It gets the kids outside and keeps them there. There are play dates, family times and quiet times that all happen in their own outdoor space.
The best part of their outdoor tinkering space? You can hose the whole thing down at the end of the day. The mud, grass, water-based paint little stones or even shaving cream. Everything washes away. We always imagine that one day far into the future, a new generation will play in the garden finding trees with sparkles and multi coloured flowers magically growing there because of years playing and creating from generations of children before them.
All it takes is a small area
Before we get into the organization of how to do this in your garden, I want to explain that your space does not need to have a certain look for children to play productively. Start with what you have, keep it AMAZINGLY simple. But most importantly you do not need a huge, intricate area for the tinkering space to be a wonderful experience for children.
A simple Stella Nova Play kids table with a washing-up bowl a box with sand and a small watering can is enough. Add to it as you feel comfortable and as your children are ready. Start small and grow your area as your children grow into their space .
Know that children will run back and forth from riding scooters playing with the swing and to creating. Children are not meant to focus on one thing for extended periods of time. That is not how their brains work.
When to start assembling
With the first signs of spring, you can start putting the space together. Be vigilant about dumping out any standing water because of mosquitos and wear and tear of the wood. But please do not overthink it because you know that at the end of the year when it is time to prepare for autumn the weather and everyday use will certainly have caused wear and tear. But that is ok because this space is meant to be used a lot, not looked at.
Wat materials to use
Be fluid about the materials you want to put in the outdoor space. If your kids are using the materials industriously, and they are not hurting anyone or destroying things, we pretty much let them go for it.
BUT… the younger the child, the fewer the materials. The space and materials need to match the interests and developmental level of the children who use it. The materials the little ones play with must match their developmental stage to keep them safe. That is key to success.
For young children all you need is a Mini Beee picnic table, a washing-up bowl with water, sand and some extra materials that depend on your child’s interest and your comfortability level. For example materials to build an insect hotel, to plant blossombs or just have fun with water and mud.