Imaginative Play: Paver Roads

A few years ago, I put together a rock play garden for my son.  I found cheap pavers and we decorated them and used them as a garden border.  I noticed the kids often used the pavers in little backyard games they made up, and I made a note to buy more (they are really cheap!).  

We don’t have room for a sandpit but my son, especially, loves the sand and he often comes home from school with shoes full of it! We created a simple sand play tray (which you can read about here) and extended that by making paver roads. The kids loved it! So fun! So easy too!

Imaginative Play - Paver Roads

Materials

  • Pavers (I purchased 14)

(you can buy black or white pavers from Bunnings and places like that from about 60 cents each).

  • Paint pen (or for something less permanent, just you chalk and it washes off)

(I used white or if you have white pavers, use black)

Paver roads for play

Drawing the roads

Forming the roads was a simple process of drawing a dotted line through the centre of the pavers. We allocated a few bricks to be corners and did right angle lines to connect (or do double sided bricks: one side with straight lines and the other with corner lines).

Imaginative Play - Paver Roads

Imaginative Play - Paver Roads

Play

We added a few trucks and rocks. That’s it!

Imaginative Play - Paver Roads

Imaginative Play - Paver Roads

Imaginative Play - Paver Roads

Imaginative Play - Paver Roads

Imaginative Play - Paver Roads

Pack up

The good thing about the pavers is you can move them wherever you want: on grass, on concrete or as a border to a play garden. This took me 5 minutes to set up and 5 minutes to pack up.  When packing up, I placed the bricks up against the house and the underbed storage container comes with a lid which is handy for keeping the sand clean.

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Wood Roads

Construction Sand Box

Rock Play Garden

Imaginative Play Scenes

DIY Play Tablecloth

Box City Scene

Imaginative Play Scene — A Castle Garden

artifical grass play scene

I’m not sure what made me think about it, but I had this idea of using a section of artificial grass as a base for an imaginative play scene.  And so I went to Clark Rubber and bought half a metre (you could probably find the stuff at places like Bunnings too). Cost me under $15, and it’s proved to be a hit with the kids.

This is the perfect sort of activity for the school holidays, because once you set it up, the kids tend to come back and forth for days on end, adding to the play as they go.  I had the grass sitting in the garage, waiting for an opportune moment to use it, and then I saw a picture of the gardens at Château de Chenonceau in France. What an inspiration!  And BOOM: so was born the Castle Garden Play Scene.

Château de Chenonceau in France -- gardensimage credit

A Magical Castle Garden

What we used

Like any of our play scenes, most of the stuff can be find around the home or can be purchased for very little cost.

Materials

Underbed storage container

Fake plants (found at a discount store)

Artifical grass

Decorative Stones

Bowl (filled with water and a drop of food colouring)

Small Dolls

1. Cut grass to size.

artifical grass play scene

2. Small fake plants are delightful because they add such a wonderful element of magic and colour.

Princess Lawn Imaginative Play Scene -- Blossom Tree

3.  A bowl filled with water and a drop of blue food colouring (which does stain because it’s so diluted) is perfect for mermaids, of course.  I noticed the chidlren added in a few shells to the water from their collections.

Imaginative play scene -- mermaid pool

4.  The children already had these cute plastic crystals. Pretty, pretty. And we added some stepping stones too.

Crystals

5.    Add toys/dolls/anything!

imaginative play scene -- dolls

6. I set this up for the kids outside on a mat under the car port, so it was in the shade but still outside in the fresh air. The wonderful thing about these sorts of things is you can set it up inside, or outside.

imaginative play scene

imaginative play scene - castle garden

More Artifical Grass Play Scenes

The artifical grass is great for other play scenes too. We’ve done a dinosaur park,a  farm, a zoo!

More

Imaginative Play Scene Ideas

5 Ways to Get Started with Imaginative Play (from Picklebums)

The Magical Waters of Pink Water Bay

magical water for play

Welcome to the magical waters of Pink Water Bay.

Giving a little sparkle to play can be as easy as pink food colouring, glitter and water.  It’s all about the little sparkle that lights up the imagination.

Materials

Large under-bed storage container

Pink (or other colour) food colouring

Glitter (optional)

Barbies or other toys

It’s warm here in Brisbane now and the kids are playing with water more often. I’m still trying get organised after my trip to India, (oh the piles washing!) so after school one afternoon, I set up water play for the children outside.  It took me less than 5 minutes, and the children were outside playing for hours.

Note: because the food colouring is so diluted, it doesn’t stain hands or toys.

Pink water for Barbies

play scene -- pink water

play scene -- water

play scene -- pink water

I added a little glitter for that extra sparkle.

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How to Untangle Barbie Hair

Imaginative Play Scene Ideas

Fun with painted rocks – dinosaur imaginative play

Guest Post by Ness from One Perfect Day Blog

Painted rocks dinosaur game

We recently spent an afternoon painting some rocks in fun bright patterns. The rocks have been a big hit with my 4 year old son, R. We’ve used them for all sorts of games including a fun garden treasure hunt.  The collection of rocks you see in the photo above reminded me of dinosaur eggs so I decided to create a dinosaur imaginative play scene. We’ve created dinosaur worlds before, but this time I added to the activity by burying our “dinosaur eggs” under some sand and R had to dig to find them.

What you need

Sand

Rocks (painted)

Foil or plastic tray

Dinosaur figurines

Decorative stones

Other play items like a fish net, plastic spoon.

Stickts and leaves

Painted rocks dinosaur game 2

I began by filling a tray with sand. I then buried some of our dinosaur eggs under the sand and added glass pebbles, leaves, and of course dinosaurs. I left some of our painted rocks on the surface to add to the scene.

Painted rocks dinosaur game 3

Then it was time for my little archeologist to get to work! I gave R a small aquarium net and a plastic spoon. He scooped and poured the sand, looking for the hidden dinosaur eggs.

painted rocks dinosaur game 4

Jackpot! A dinosaur egg is uncovered.

Painted rocks dinosaur game 5

R loved this activity and added many elements of his own to the imaginative scene including some plastic insects and frogs that we have used in our frog pond small world play scene.  He was creating stories for all the dinosaurs and other animals as he played.

Painted rocks dinosaur game 6

When he had found all the “eggs” he stacked them behind our tree and continued to play and dig around in the sand. I left the tray out and he kept coming back to it all day. I think this one is going to be popular around here for quite a while.

About Ness

Ness is the creator of One Perfect Day, a site full of creative ideas for kids to play and learn, family recipes, and information about positive parenting and connecting with our children. She is also a contributor at KidsActivitiesBlog.com. Ness loves creating fun kids’ activities and has decided that permanently having paint under her fingernails and play dough in her hair is a fashion statement. You can find One Perfect Day on Facebook and Twitter or follow along on Pinterest.

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Dinosaur Island Play Scene

Imaginative Play Scenes

How to Make a Pet Rock

Imaginative Play Scene: A Fairy Door

imaginative play scene -- the fairy door

I came across The Fairy Door Store  on Facebook and I fell instantly in love with the product.  The fairy doors are all kinds of magical cuteness, sure to stimulate imaginative play for kids.  I emailed Sarah from to ask her if she would work with me to do a play scene for my blog, and so here we are.

Imaginative Play Scene

Materials

Fairy Door

Shells

Decorative stones

Fairy or small doll

Ribbon or streamers (optional)

To set up this this play scene, I placed a few shells and decorative stones at the base of a tree and used blu-tack (glue to make it permanent) the fairy door to the trunk.  I also tied a few ribbons on the tree branches above the door, and it looks truly magical! I wish I could describe the gasp of delight from my daughter when she saw this.

Fairy Door in a tree

Happiness! 

playing with fairy

imaginative play scene -- fairy door

More

Imaginative Play Scenes

Imaginative Play Scene: Rainbow Woods

rainbow woods imaginative play scene

This fun play scene is easy to put together and is sure to bring out all kinds of imaginative play!

The Rainbow Woods

There are twists, and turns; bends and corners: welcome to the Rainbow Woods. You may find secret messages, written on the trees in black ink, so look closely, and oh-so-carefully; there might even be treasure.

Materials

Large rectangle plastic container

Sticks

Cups, pots or small containers

Small rocks, sand or dirt

1. Collect and paint sticks. Allow to dry.

rainbow woods imaginative play scene -- paint sticks

2. Place sticks in containers like plastic cups or pots, and fill with rocks, sand or dirt to keep in place.

rainbow woods imaginative play scene

3. Place ‘the woods’ in the rectangle container. (Or set up on a flat surface.)

rainbow woods imaginative play scene

4. Add toys, like Winnie the Pooh, Fairies, Lego, animal figures or anything!

rainbow woods imaginative play scene

5. Read books like Oh! The Places You’ll Go by Dr Seuss, Winnie the Pooh by A.A. Milne, Hansel and Gretel  by Brothers Grimm or other classic Fairy Tales.

the places you'll go by dr seuss illustraions

winnie the pooh_map6. Search the Internet about Rainbow Eucalyptus Trees, native in the Northern Hemisphere.

rainbow trees(Image)

More

Imaginative Play Scenes

Decoration Ideas for Painted Sticks

Play Scene: Cardboard Box City

carboard box city -- play scene

Well, well! The children and I spent a glorious afternoon creating this cardboard box city.  It cost me all of…nothing, was mess free and is still going strong! There are many inspirational ideas like this around the web, like this one from Picklebums.

Below is how we made our city.

Materials

Tea Chest Size packing box larger (the bigger the box, the better!)

(I have many packing boxes around from our last move but you can buy them (cheap) from office works, many real estate agents or packing suppliers)

Packing tape

Drawing materials

Matchbox cars

Instructions

1. Prepare the box for decoration

carboard box city instructions

2. Draw in roads

I drew in the roads with permanent marker before the kids decorated the box.

cardboard box road city -- draw in roads

3. Decorate

In the spaces in between the roads, draw in details with texters and pencils. Also use the back, verticle side of the box to draw in  buildings, trees or anything else you like.   Each one of my children contributed something.

These are some of the details we added.

  • Homes
  • Bushes
  • Grass
  • Ponds
  • Trees
  • Birds
  • Walking path
  • Bike path
  • Fruit market
  • Car park
  • Farm
  • Flowers
  • Houses
  • Playground
  • Highrise buildings

Vertical Buildings

cardboard road city high rise match box cars

Oval and playground

cardboard box city with roads and matchbox cars

Carpark & fruit market

cardboard box play scene -- roads

Trees

cardboard box play scene -- trees and buildings

4. Add Extras

Extra materials (optional)

3D Buildings

- empty capsule boxes, for example, the box panadol comes in

– Paint

Street signs

– Milk bottle lids

– Craft glue

– Paddlepop sticks

– Blu-tack

Clouds

– Cotton wool balls

– glue

Add detail to the creation by adding 3D buildings, clouds and street signs. This doesn’t have to be done in one sitting; create this play scene over days or weeks even.

milk bottle lid street signs

Milk Bottle Lid Signs

  • Draw symbol or words on the inside of the milk bottle lid
  • Glue paddle pop stick on the back of the milk bottle lid
  • Once dry, use blu-tack as a stand on the cardboard road

Clouds

  • Glue cotton wool in the sky.

3D Buildings

  • Decorate empty capsule boxes (like Nurofen & Panadol)with paint or markers and glue at the back of the box. It’s a good idea to wrap the boxes in brown craft paper (or white paper) before you paint so the paint stands out.

5. Play

Matchbox cars, Lego and animal figures are examples of the toys you can add to this play scene.  The box can be used outside on the grass in the late afternoon, on a patio or deck and inside too.

cardboard box city

More

Imaginative Play Scenes

Dollhouse Style Box Cubby

Imaginative Play Scene: Ocean

ocean play scene-1

This play scene is easy to set up. You can either fill a container with water (more like this Desert Island Play Scene) or add sand to create more of a beach look as pictured above.

Materials

Large rectangle container

Empty ice-cream bucket

Blue food colouring (optional)

Sand (optional)

Sea figurines like turtles, sharks, fish, dolphin

Shells, coral

Milk Bottle Lid Boat (or cut down a plastic cup to use as a boat)

Instructions

Fill ice-cream container with water and add a few drops of food colouring if desired. Place the smaller container amongst a larger container filled with sand.  Arrange shells, add the animals and a boat and the kids will be set for play.

ocean play scene

ocean play scene

Marine Eco System

{Inspiration}

Marine-ecosystemimage credit

Warning: Children need to be supervised around water and small objects.

More Imaginative Play Scenes

imaginative play scene: pond

Pond Play Scene

Easter Play -- Chicks in a pond

Easter Chicks

imaginative play scene -- desert island -- step 3

Desert Island

play space -- fairy land

Fairy Land

imaginative play space -- rock garden

Rock Garden

imaginative play space -- tree house

Tree House

Imaginative Play Scene: Pond

I enjoy setting up imaginative play scenes for my kids. You can read the reason why in this post: Desert Island Play Scene.  My latest creation is a pond scene. It’s easy and cheap to set up.

The inspiration for this project was milk bottle lids; on water, they look like lily pads so I created a play scene around that.

imaginative play scene: pond

Materials

Large rectangle plastic container

Rocks/pebbles

Leaves/grass

Plastic bowl

Stick (log)

Milk bottle lids

Lily Pad Template

Blue food colouring (optional)

Small plastic figurines (frog, duck, kangaroo, fish)

1. Print and cut out lily pad template and press into milk bottle lids. See the end of the post for more ways to use this template.

milk bottle lid craft print out

2. Fill a bowl with a little water, add blue or green food colouring (optional) and place lily pads on the water. This goes inside the plastic container as pictured.  We found a log-look-a-like stick outside and used it in the water too.

Note: The lily pads tend to get wet and the picture blurs but the idea is to set the scene to stimulate imaginative play.  It’s easy to replace the lily pads if kids worry about it.

imaginative play scene: milk bottle lids lily pad

Add a few rocks and leaves in the plastic container to create an environment.  On the template, there are stepping stone cut outs to use inside milk bottle lids too.

imaginative play scene: rocks

Play inside or outside.

imaginative play scene for kids

Pond Eco System

The pond theme is only an inspiration and I don’t force educational learning while my children play. What I mean is: we set up the play scene with a particular theme in mind but the children can add anything they like to the play environment.  That said, it can be interesting to link play to real life so we set up the pond environment with a some typical pond animals.  We already had ducks and a turtle and I also found a Schleich frog while I was shopping, so all up, this activity cost me $4.50 (the frog) and everything else I found around the house.

{image credit}

pond eco system

{Matching: Schleick Pond-inspired animals to look out for or find them online here}

schleich pond animials

* Small parts. Not suitable for young children, especially under 3’s.

More

Milk Bottle Lid Crafts

More ways to use the Milk Bottle Lid Template

Milk Bottle Lid crafts: Rainbow Chairs

Rainbow Chairs

imaginative play scene: pond

Pond Play Scene

imaginative play scene: rocks

Stepping Stones

milk bottle lid craft: animial water trough

Water Trough

Milk Bottle Lids crafts: Tree House

Fairy Seats

Milk Bottle Lid Dinner Plates

Dinner Plates

Imaginative Play Scene: Rock Towers

The children and I are having so much fun with imaginative play scenes this holidays.  We recently created a Magical Play Space and Desert Island Play Scene and this time, we created a rock towers which are also ideal for a feature in the garden.

This is something that can be done anywhere there are rocks, for example, a creek, beach, bush walk, picnic spots or at home.  We have many rocks in our yard so we made some rock towers as a background for play.

Materials

Different sized rocks

– you can use a combination of natural and coloured or polished stones (collect or purchase)

Cement glue (if desired)

Instructions

It takes a little trial and error to work out which rocks fit best but that is part of the fun. If an adult plans to glue the rocks together, wipe the rocks to clean first and then use cement glue to join.

imaginative play scene -- rock tower

Construct

Imaginative play scene -- rock towers

Add toys

imaginative play scene -- rock towers

Play

Fun for:

  • Star Wars Play
  • Pirates (add a bucket of water for a sea & add boats)
  • Add as a garden feature
  • Add a pot of paper cut out flowers to create a fairy home
  • Draw road lines with chalk on concrete and add cars
  • Add to a play garden
  • Take child/ren on a quest to find different sized rocks.

This activity is suited to older children (supervised by an adult) who can play with rocks responsibility because the rocks are a potential hazard.

Permanent Feature

If you want to make permanent rock towers for a garden feature or play background (that aren’t prone to topple) an adult can glue the rocks together with cement glue in a ventilated area. This is ideal for a feature in a regular garden or a play garden (like our rock garden).

Tip: Make 5 or 6 towers of different heights and create your own rock garden feature. This can be used as a feature both inside and outside. They look fantastic!

Other Imaginative Play Scenes

imaginative play scene -- desert island -- step 3

Desert Island

play space -- fairy land

Fairy Land

imaginative play space -- rock garden

Rock Garden

imaginative play space -- tree house

Tree House

Imaginative Play Scene — Island

I confessed that I don’t get down and play with my kids all that often, but I do constantly facilitate and watch them play.   One of the things I enjoy to do is help set up play scenes for the children.  I was first inspired by this concept by Kate from Picklebums and I highly recommend this post from her: Imaginative Play at Home.

Fostering imaginative play is important to me as it’s evolving play: it starts with the building phase, then the play phase, and the play evolves with the environment. Plus, as a bonus, this sort of play lasts for days!  This imaginative play scene is island inspired and below is how I put it together.

Imaginative Play Scene -- Desert Island

How to Make

A Desert Island play theme is a fun idea for the summer months. It was easy and inexpensive to set up. It can be used outside on the grass, under a patio/veranda or even inside (if you’re game) on a large towel.

imaginative play scene -- desert island -- materials

Materials:

Large shallow rectangle box (I used an underbed storage box from Bunnings)

Round laundry bowl (you an also use a standard kitchen bowl — I purchased this from Bunnings)

20Kgs double washed sand (I purchased a bag from Bunnings)

Blue food colouring (optional)

Note: You only need a small amount so it’s very diluted and doesn’t seem to stain the kids hands or clothes

Washer or tea towel (I bought a $1 tea towel from Best & Less and cut out a rectangle)

Decoration items/toys

  • Pebbles
  • Shells
  • Duplo palm tree (make your own palm tree by threading a large leaf on to a stick)
  • Mermaids
  • Pirates
  • Rocks
  • Boats
  • Treasure box
  • Barbies

Most of the materials we found around the house, however, because I want a large box dedicated for imaginative play scenes, I purchased a few of these items.  The sand, the under bed box and laundry bowl came to a total of $30.

Step 1: The Island

Fill the round laundry bowl with sand and smooth to create the Island.

imaginative play scene -- desert island -- step 1

Step 2: The Sea

Place the Island into the underbed storage box and fill the box with water to the level of the laundry bowl. Add a little blue food colouring if desired.

imaginative play scene -- desert island -- step 2

Step 3: Create the Island

I cut up a cheap tea towel for a beach towel and used pebbles for a path. We used a Duplo palm tree to create the island look; or a large leaf on a stick does the trick.

imaginative play scene -- desert island -- step 3

Step 4: Add Toys

Here are some ideas: Barbie, mermaids, fish, sharks, boats.

imaginative play scene -- desert island -- step 4 add toys

Step 5: Play

This sort of water play is perfect for the summer months!

imaginative play scene -- desert island -- step 5 play

Step 6: Create

The best part of this sort of play is it evolves and grows as the kids use their imagination. Last time I checked, this is what their play looked like. I helped create the basics and the kids did the rest, including the leaf trees.

Imaginative play scene -- desert island -- step 6 create

Kind of dreamy really.

imaginative play space -- desert island -- finished

Other Imaginative Play Scene Ideas

Imaginative Play Scenes

Imaginative Play Scene — Tree House

Kate from Picklebums first introduced me to the concept of Imaginative Play Scenes. Since then, the kids and I have a lot of fun creating environments for the kids to play in. Setting up a play scene doesn’t take a lot of time and the play benefits last over days.  Pop over and read Kate’s post for some more ideas: Imaginative Play at Home.

Imaginative Play Scene — Tree House

Materials:

Box

Paint (optional)

Patty Cases

Other items to decorate the tree (see the picture below for ideas)

imaginative play space -- tree house

Paint the box (optional) and cut out a door before positioning it in a tree. To see how we made our house, click the picture.

Imaginative Play Space -- Tree House

Use craft glue to fasten patty cases on to a few leaves.

imaginative play scene -- tree house

Decorate with ribbon, pine cones and any other decoration. Click the picture to see more ideas.

imaginative play scene -- tree house

Add toys and play!

We extended this play scene into a magical fairy land. You can read about it in this post: Magical Play Space.

Other Imaginative Play Scenes

Desert Island

White Christmas

Magical Land