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Outdoor play structures are summer essentials - Extra activities - Educatall

Outdoor play structures are summer essentials

Whether it's for climbing, sliding, playing, or pretending, outdoor play structures remain the number one attraction for many children. Whether it's the structures at your local playground or the ones in your yard, these "beasts" are popular with children of all ages.


Summer is the perfect time to take advantage of their presence. Every time children climb a play structure or use a swing, they are developing gross motor skills.


What can exploring a play structure teach children? Among other things, they can:

  • Practice climbing
  • Practice going up and down stairs
  • Strengthen the muscles in their arms and shoulders
  • Jump
  • Control their posture
  • Increase their muscle tone
  • Be active (physical activity is essential)
  • Have fun

What makes outdoor play structures extraordinary is the fact that it can be difficult for children to develop gross motor skills indoors, where they often have little room to move. Children don't normally have a lot of opportunities to climb indoors. I therefore encourage you to provide children with the chance to explore outdoor play structures as often as possible to help them acquire various abilities that play an important role in their overall development.


Although outdoor play structures are often used during periods of free play, they can also be used for structured play.


Here are a few ideas:

  • Ball race. Simply place several balls inside an outdoor play structure. Children stand on a start line. When you give the signal, they run to the play structure to grab a ball and race back to the start line.
  • A treasure hunt. Stick pictures here and there on an outdoor play structure to encourage children to climb and slide.
  • All aboard. When you give the signal, children race to climb the play structure before the boat leaves the dock...
  • Forbidden actions. Who said the only way to have fun with a slide is to go down? For a predetermined period, let children explore your outdoor play structure as they wish, without any rules.
  • Set exercise mats under your play structure's ropes or rings. Children will increase their arm strength by grabbing hold of the rope or rings to cross from one end to the other.
  • Ball fight. Divide your group into two teams. One team remains on or inside your play structure. The other children stand around the play structure, on the ground. The children on the play structure have a box filled with soft balls. They throw the balls, attempting to touch the children in the other team. Once the box is empty, the teams change places.
  • Snack time. If your play structure in big enough, let children eat their snack inside or on top of it.

These simple ideas will help you use outdoor play structures more. I am sure you have other ideas too. Put them to the test and enjoy summer!


Maude Dubé, Specialized educator


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