Small Outdoor Space

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  • JaymeB

    Hey Everyone,

    I’m new to CM. My oldest is 4 and I’m trying to figure everything out before we really need to start school. Anyways, I’ve recently found out CM recommends 4-6 hours of outdoor play. I can honestly say that’s probably only happens on pool days in the summer. My biggest concern is my yard space. It’s relatively small. Our backyard is mostly a deck with a dirt area off to the side. We can’t grow grass because there’s so much tree coverage in the spring/summer.

    Our front yard is larger, but I still don’t know if it would hold interest for that long. What do y’all suggest for ways to keep children engaged outside when they’re not used to that much outside play?


    I recently read a great book about the many benefits of outdoor play called “Balanced and Barefoot” by Angela Hanscom.  It also contains a lot of practical suggestions for getting your kids outside more.

    Here are some things that I have done in our small yard with my four kids (six and under!)…

    • Sandbox
    • watertable
    • container gardening and/or fairy gardens
    • kid’s picnic table for eating and doing art work outside
    • mud pit
    • bird feeder
    • natural play props: shells, pine cones, sticks, etc
    • chalk
    • painting with water
    • outdoor toys: bikes, balls, jump ropes

    We also get outside for a walk or bike ride around the neighborhood everyday and drive to local parks and playgrounds. We have started a new routine this year of going on a family hike every weekend when Daddy is with us.

    4-6 hours is a lot, especially when your kids are young and you have to supervise them! I’ve made it my goal to get in 3 hours a day… and if we do more, great! On a typical day we will play outside for a couple hours and then take a walk for about an hour later in the day or visit a playground.

    Hope that helps! I make outside time one of my top priorities but even so, some days it just doesn’t happen!





    Are there any state parks or nature trails near you? Or just a regular playground? Maybe she won’ want to play on swings and slides for that long but you can bring lunch and some books and art supplies and still enjoy the benefits of being outside.:)

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