Favourite Play Spaces

November 22, 2011

Since becoming a parent, I’ve had to think differently about play spaces for kids. Don’t get me wrong: it’s wonderful to have designated playground areas for children in our community but just because it’s a space for kids doesn’t mean it’s the only place to play (or the best place for children to play for that matter).

I believe our society encourages too much compartmentalisation, and it’s easy to get caught up in the designated boxes already provided to parent in.  When I first became a parent, I would immediately think of playground when planning time outside for my kids. Now I don’t. Playgrounds are right down on my list and I’ll explain why below. Plus this post gives some insight too: Playing with Kids (a confession).

Space

Playgrounds do provide space, but when you look out at the wide blue wonder of the sea, now that is what I call space. It’s not always possible for my kids to experience the wonder of being at the beach, but I look for similar opportunities where I can.

Imaginative Play

There are wonderful playgrounds that stimulate creative play. However, I love to give my children the opportunity to make their own play too, without stereotypical play equipment.

Distance

I think it’s important for my kids to play at a distance from me sometimes, especially as my kids are now out of the toddler stage.  However, safety is always a concern to me, so it can be hard to find the balance.  When I’m in wide open spaces, I can see the kids clearly (to keep a close eye on them) without crowding their game.

Crowds

Popular playgrounds are filled with kids. While it’s important for my children to learn to consider others when they play (and they learn this in a variety of environments), sometimes being in a playground can hinder play. For example, my kids often play with sicks in a variety of ways, but I ask them to refrain when they are a playground, out of respect for young children and others who may not feel comfortable with the concept.

Freedom

The fact is, when it comes to my children, the freedom of being in a stress free and open environment stimulates the most creative play. The play that lasts for hours!  This is the sort of play I value the most so I foster it as much as I can.

Play Spaces We Love

If you follow me on instagram, you will often see pictures of me with my kids in open spaces. Many have asked if we live in the country. We don’t. We live in your average suburban block.  It’s amazing what you find around your neighbourhood when you explore a little. Below are pictures (taken with my iPhone) of our favourites places to play and explore close to home (10-15 minutes away).

play spaces for kids

Below are other outdoor spaces the kids like to play in.  I watch my children create amazing games in these spaces, filled with construction, planning, pretend play, creativity, climbing, balancing and team work.

Beach

The beach is always gold. All that water — the air, the sand, the sun — it all spells freedom, doesn’t it?

outdoor kids -- beach

Creeks/Lakes

Many creeks and lakes have park lands attached to them so it’s worth hunting them down. We found a secluded park and we spend many an afternoon exploring the banks and throwing pebbles into the water. I find it relaxing too which is a bonus!

outdoor kids -- creeks and waterways

Walking tracks

Walking tracks are a wonderful place to to run and play. The kids often run ahead of me, often pausing to look at things along the way, and I tag along behind. Walking tracks are fun with scooters and bikes too.

outdoor kids -- walking tracks

Rocks

My kids LOVE rocks. Rocks seems to bring out the most amazing pretend play games for some reason.

outdoor kids -- rocks

Trees

Trees are a wonderful place to play. Yes, they can be a hazard (like monkey bars) but there are many trees that are easy, and quite safe to climb.

outdoor kids -- trees

Grass

Open grassy spaces are simply delicious.

outdoor kids -- grassy spaces

Bushwalks

On holidays, we love bushwalking as an activity.

outdoor kids -- bushwalking

Country

I’m fortunate to have a sister who lives in the country.  The kids LOVE visiting her place because there is so much space to run around and play. So, if you’re in the city, I recommend adopting someone from the country to be friends with. HA!

outdoor kids -- country

I will continue to visit playgrounds with the kids. However, our family is always hunting for other play areas to explore and enjoy. Instead of visiting a playground after school, you’ll often find us throwing pebbles into a creek instead.

What outdoor play spaces do you love?

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{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

Jacqui (CRAP Mamma)No Gravatar November 23, 2011 at 9:59 am

You know Kel, I think your kids and mine are very similar. They love anything outdoors. It doesn’t even have to be a big, wide space (although that definately helps disperse the noise :) ) even finding snails, bugs, flowers and plants on walks around our suburb is wonderful.

We have a park with slides and swings just down the road from us so I must admit that we do spend a fair bit of time down there too. And you’re right, it does tend to restrict them a little at times (especially when it’s busy and they can’t be as crazy as usual) but I have a little chuckle everytime they gather sticks, build themselves an imaginary campfire and cook imaginary marshmallows on it. Priceless and much better than being glued to the telly. Wonderful post as usual xxx

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Kelly Be A Fun MumNo Gravatar November 24, 2011 at 10:53 am

I think our kids would get on famously! We should all hang out Jac. Love your description of their campfire play. Gorgeous!

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Jacqui (CRAP Mamma)No Gravatar November 24, 2011 at 11:18 am

Absolutely! You and I are going to organise our kiddies a little playdate as soon as this festive craziness is over xx

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Kelly Be A Fun MumNo Gravatar November 24, 2011 at 4:16 pm

BIOB. That’s Bring It On Baby. ;)

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OopsiemummaNo Gravatar November 23, 2011 at 1:44 pm

Thanks Kelly, I’m so glad I came across your blog right before the school holidays. You’re totally right and I’m going to start avoiding the crazily overcrowded parks and heading to the water, grass areas etc these holidays.

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Kelly Be A Fun MumNo Gravatar November 24, 2011 at 10:54 am

Hi OM. Thanks so much for following along with my blog! So glad you’re here. School holidays are a perfect time to find new places to visit. It can be a good idea to start with a map of where creeks/lakes are. There are always some golden spots to play.

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Janice - Learning 4 kidsNo Gravatar November 23, 2011 at 1:54 pm

How could I not comment Kel…..this post makes my heart sing…. lalala, haha! :)
Freedom, fresh air, open spaces, nature = fun and play! Fabulous!!
I love your photos too, your kids are absolutely gorgeous! xx

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Kelly Be A Fun MumNo Gravatar November 24, 2011 at 10:56 am

YAY!! I can totally hear you sing online!! Thanks Janice xx There you go: it’s all teacher approved right Janice?

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BrookeNo Gravatar November 24, 2011 at 2:22 pm

This post just makes me want to go on a day trip! My son loves open spaces too, in particular exploring. Anywhere is good.

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Kelly Be A Fun MumNo Gravatar November 24, 2011 at 4:18 pm

Hi Brooke. I know what you mean. Doesn’t it just make you want to take off and just explore for a day!? Indeed…anywhere is good!

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Veronica @ Mixed GemsNo Gravatar November 24, 2011 at 3:49 pm

I love this post. I always love your IG pics and the constant reminder to get outdoors. I just don’t do it enough myself. I need to. I want my girls to.

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Kelly Be A Fun MumNo Gravatar November 24, 2011 at 4:19 pm

Thanks Veronica! I have always loved the outdoors but in the past I wouldn’t have called myself and outdoorsy person. However, things have really changed for me in the last few years and I find so much comfort and joy in nature around me so I have become a REAL outdoor person. HA! I love it!

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SquiggleMumNo Gravatar November 26, 2011 at 10:19 pm

Lovely Kell. xx

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tashNo Gravatar December 28, 2011 at 12:34 pm

I’m also in Brisbane so I’d love to know where some of these beautiful outdoor areas are – my daughter would love to go exploring! :-)

Thanks

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Kelly BNo Gravatar December 29, 2011 at 9:13 am

Tash, I’ll email you.

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ElishaNo Gravatar July 8, 2014 at 9:26 am

Hi Kelly – just found this particular post linked to the Come Back Here – my kids are 4, 2 & 5 months and the older 2 just love being outdoors! We’re in the northern brisbane area too and would love to have a list of the places from this post or other close adventures – I’m sure they are just around the corner, and I’d love to spend some time exploring with the kids!
Thankyou!
Elisha

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Kelly Be A Fun MumNo Gravatar July 8, 2014 at 9:56 am

emailed you.

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Melinda FitzgibbonNo Gravatar December 28, 2011 at 10:36 pm

HI there Be a Fun Mum,

our little family quite likes Tambourine Mountain as a place to explore. It has a great fudge shoppe as well as many art galleries, cafes and boutiques.

Fun family day out.

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Kelly BNo Gravatar December 29, 2011 at 9:19 am

Melinda, I was just at Mt Tamborine for Christmas! Love it there! I bought this necklace from a little french vintage inspired shop I always love to visit when I’m there. http://twitter.com/#!/BeAFunMum/media/slideshow?url=http%3A%2F%2Finstagr.am%2Fp%2FbyFJJ%2F

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BekNo Gravatar July 11, 2012 at 12:27 pm

Funny what you say about playgrounds and sticks…good example of what you call compartmentalizing play – we were at a playground a while ago and noticed a boy who’d have been around 4 or so pick up and look at a stick. A slightly younger girl approached him looking at what he was holding. The boy passes it to the girl and suddenly there’s a shrill “PUT IT DOWN! PUT THE STICK DOWN…IT’S DAAANGEROUS! PUT THE STICK DOWN QUICKLY!”. I think I would have laughed if I weren’t so surprised. Don’t get me wrong, like you, I discourage my own boys from playing with them in public places imagining little kids running over and having eyes poked out etc. But goodness! Never imagined a mere twig (and it was a twig, seriously) could really be so DAAAANGEROUS! (I think this one could bite)

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ReneeNo Gravatar July 10, 2014 at 11:47 am

Great post Kelly! I love getting my kids outdoors too. One of our favourite things is gardening, looking for worms, picking our veggies & flowers…. so much fun!

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