Backyard Cubby Play Everyday – Week 2

Happy holidays to all of the families out there! We hope you have been having an awesome week enjoying the Spring sunshine.

As a teacher, I absolutely loved hearing all about the play and adventures my class had been up to with their families over their holiday break. The joy on their faces as they share with pride their play memories with their buddies was pure gold!

With this year’s holidays looking a little different to usual and many more of us staying put and enjoying #staycation (and why wouldn’t we anyway in this beautiful part of the world?), there has never been a more prime opportunity to make the most of our beloved backyards.

Each week here in our Journal, I will be providing you with new free and inexpensive activity ideas, inspiration and educational insights, to mix up backyard cubby play with your kids. These weekly invitations to play are designed to help fire up your children’s own imagination and ensure your YARDart Cubby continues to be the ultimate place to be all year round!

Making your cubby house a home

To kick off our first official week of backyard cubby play ideas, it made perfect sense to begin with perhaps the most obvious play theme of all. I am sure if you think back to our own childhood, making a cubby home in your backyard or neighbourhood with your tribe was how you spent many of hours and even days.

This has well and truly stood the test of time, with role playing and creating a home in their cubby still being a very popular and revisited play theme for kids today. This year in particular, during the current world pandemic our homes genuinely have become our castle and a place we have retreated to and spent even more of our time.

Through ‘playing out’ everyday tasks such as cooking, eating, cleaning, sleeping and being a family inside their cubby, children learn to make sense of their immediate world and day to day life, whilst feeling safe and secure. They will role play their own home life experiences, which is not only hilarious but also sometimes rather eye-opening for us to watch at times – hello re-enactment of our ‘tidy your room’ nag, fridge snacking or worse, our bossy parent voice!

Help the kids to transform their YARDart Cubby into a home by allowing them to bring favourite toys and real-life household items (approved by you first) out into the yard. Alternatively, encourage your children to use their imagination and create household items for their cubby homes out of what they can find around the backyard. It won’t take them long to get the creativity flowing!

Here are a few tips for some perfect play props for your YARDart Cubby, for endless hours of fun:

  • Kitchenware – Pots, pans, wooden spoons, cake tins, muffin trays, cups, cutlery (kids safe of course) and watch what they serve up
  • Cushions and blankets – Many kids will love to make their new ‘home’ soft and cosy and these are perfect for role playing bedtime
  • A washing line – Tie up a rope from your YARDart Cubby and grab some old clothes, towels and pegs and you have yourself a washing line (plus this is great practise ready for them to help you out with the family’s washing #kidchores)!
  • Cleaning items – You may have already noticed your child loves to role play cleaning and is wanting to help you out with the weekly chores (awesome!). Capitalise on this and nurture their cubby house pride by lending them your dustpan and brush, dusters and perhaps a spray bottle filled with water and let them clean until their heart is content. Again, great practise 😉
  • Books – Reading their favourite books doesn’t have to be confined to bedtimes. In fact, spontaneous enjoyment of books throughout the day has huge benefits for our kids. Encourage them to choose a few of their favourite books to take to their cubby and these can be rotated.
  • Clipboards – Many kids will love to draw/write anytime and anywhere – fab for their fine motor skills and creativity! A clipboard means they can get create their masterpieces wherever they are in the yard.
  • Nature – You can’t beat the open-ended resource that is nature for firing up their imagination and creating endless play possibilities. Think sticks, rocks, pinecones, seedpods, bark and leaves and you are good to go!

Quick tips for the dreaded ‘tidy up’ time

It is important for our kids to tidy up after themselves as part of their play routine. To help gear them up for tidy up time, I recommend giving them a 5-minute warning to finish off their play frame and try creating your own family ‘tidy up song’. This worked wonders with my class and I will certainly be giving it a crack with our little one once he is old enough. Best of luck!

I hope I have given you a few handy tips and play ideas and promise to be back this time next week with a brand new play theme for backyard cubby play. In the meantime, if you missed my first blog, an introduction to the YARDart play basics, check it out here: Week 1

P.S. A huge thanks to all of you that came to say hey and play at The Village Markets in Burleigh on Sunday. We had a blast and will be back next month for sure!

Anya Imhoff (nee Perkins) – Mum, teacher, ‘Mrs YARDart’ and Education Coordinator, Nature Play Qld.

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