Guest Post – Outdoor Play Materials

I’m so happy to welcome FLIP’s first guest writer, Lisa Coughlin!

Lisa and I met via Yo-Yo Reggio, nearly three years ago. She’s always felt like a kindred spirit, as we’ve corresponded via letters, cards, blog comments, e-mail, and text messages – truly a 21st century friendship. One day I hope to make the trek to Illinois, so that I can make some chalk dust with Lisa and her lovely family in person.

Arranging materials to expand, or inspire, outdoor play has been a learning process for me and my family.  We don’t have a backyard space we can dedicate to leaving items outside, so our garage is home to most of our outdoor-related items.

Last summer, in an effort to make the most of our garage space, we painted some chalkboards on the unfinished dry wall.  We invested in some shelving and Rubbermaid containers for mobile sensory play.  The clear, shallow, long containers, usually used for storage under beds, have been used for water, mud, sand, and even dried corn.  I have elevated a Rubbermaid container on two kitchen chairs, for stand-up use, or placed the container directly on the grass or driveway, for sit-down accessibility.

The items used most frequently by our neighborhood:  chalk, water, pots and pans.

I can’t recall how it started, but the popular thing to do with chalk in our driveway is for the children to turn it into chalk dust by scraping it on the side of a metal pot.  They collect the dust and use it for outdoor mixing and “cooking.”  Chalk is also used on the chalkboard, and on the driveway for creating outdoor “houses.”


The ball is making a comeback in the game of “Spud” and “Steal the Bacon” (using the ball as bacon).  The median age range of children in our neighborhood is 5 to 9, so organized games are happening more often.

If my daughter could live outdoors, she would.  We don’t have a backyard to build a tree house, but we try to make the most of the space we do have, providing the materials she and her friends would like if she had her own outdoor home!
What materials are popular for outdoor play in your neighborhood?  How do you organize these materials, to make them easily accessible and organized?


3 thoughts on “Guest Post – Outdoor Play Materials

  1. Thanks for the guest blog, Lisa. I feel an affinity with you and your family after these years of connection through Elise’s blog, your blog and your shared postings.
    Your garage organization inspires me to continue organizing and decluttering my own. It’s another “room” to use to the best advantage.
    Hmmm….shaved chalk…..good idea! Shaved charcoal is fun to draw with even though it’s messier.

  2. Pingback: What do people do all year? 13 for ’12 | The Family Lab for Inquiry and Play

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