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Playground Equipment Blog
Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Fall Crafts for Kids

These autumn crafts will keep kids engaged and warm on blustery days. Because sometimes making crafts indoors and sipping cocoa is preferable to playing outside! Read on for our list of favorite fall crafts.


Acorn Handprint Art


This lovely craft from Crafty Morning is easy for teachers and parents to replicate, requires very few supplies, and garners adorable results that are most definitely fridge-worthy.


For this project, you’ll need:


  • Paint in a variety of browns, earth tones, and neutrals
  • A paintbrush
  • Heavy cardstock or construction paper

To create: Invite children to paint their hands in a color that matches their skin tone. Next, ask them to plant their hands on a piece of paper, so that you collect a well-outlined handprint. After that, flip it upside down and use either brown paint or a marker to draw the acorn tops. Easy and sweet!


Pumpkin Apple Stamps


What’s better than pumpkins? Pumpkins made from apples! This sweet craft from Frugal Mom Eh! is easy, eco-friendly, and, naturally, inexpensive.


What you’ll need:


  • Apples sliced in half
  • Orange and green craft paint
  • Brushes (optional)
  • Paper Plates
  • White Paper

To get started, parents can dry sliced apples inside and out. Using a paper plate or a strong piece of scrap construction paper, squeeze out some orange and green paint. Repurposing the inside of the apple as a stamp, dip your apple into the orange paint, making sure it’s completely covered. Stamp it on the white paper. Press down with medium pressure, lift up directly, and voila! A pumpkin! Finally, using a paintbrush and green paint -- or a green marker -- create a stem. Repeat the process all over the piece of paper for a fun pumpkin collage!


Leaf Brigade


Kids will delight at this charming craft: creating leaf people! The festive fall craft is from the people at My Mommy Style.


For this project, you’ll need:


  • Leaves of all shapes and colors
  • White paper or construction paper
  • Glue
  • Googly eyes and markers

This is a great project because collecting the required materials doubles as a fun outdoor activity. Go on a walk through the yard or neighborhood park to collect some pretty fall leaves. Next, bring them home and let them dry. After that, find some computer paper or construction paper and assemble your supplies, along with the leaves, on a table. Encourage kids to create their own leaf characters, complete with heads, torsos, arms, and legs. Once kids have crafted a leaf person they’re happy with, help them glue it to the paper and add googly eyes and marker details.


Cue Tip Skeletons


This one is a favorite! Help kids craft skeletons that go bump in the night with just a few materials.


You’ll need:


  • Cue tips
  • Black construction paper
  • White paper and a black marker
  • Glue

Kids can follow the pattern here to create their own skeleton. Then, have them draw a skeleton head. Encourage them to express their creativity. They can also use a picture of their face for the skeleton head. Finally, glue all of the pieces onto a piece of black construction paper. Spooky and crafty!

Paper Plate Jack-o-Lanterns


This Halloween-inspired craft from The Simple Parent is cheap, cheerful, and oh-so-easy to make.


To make this one, you’ll need:


  • Paper plates
  • Orange and black markers or paint
  • Green pipe cleaners
  • A hole punch

First, have your kids completely color their paper plate orange. Next, encourage them to draw a face on their pumpkin with a black or dark-colored marker. After that, punch a hole in the top of the plate for them, so that they can thread and twist the green pipe cleaner through the hole. Shape the pipe cleaner into curlicues to add some festive fun!


Stamp Trees


This craft is similar to the apple pumpkin stamps. Combine this project with the last to create a whole fall scene using upcycled materials. Using the same paints from the previous craft, create stamp “trees” from bent toilet paper rolls.


For this craft, you’ll need:


  • One or more toilet paper rolls
  • Paper plates
  • Paint brushes (optional)
  • A tree template (optional)
  • Construction paper or white paper

First, invite kids to draw the outline of a tree, or find a blank tree template online. Next, squirt paint colors onto paper plates. Yellow, orange, and red are great fall hue choices. After that, encourage children to dip their bent toilet paper rolls into the paint and stamp them onto the branches to make leaves. They can either fill in the leaves using paint brushes or leave them as-is for a unique aesthetic.


Candy Corn Flower Art


Delicious and easy, this craft from the Resourceful Mama has us excited for Halloween.


For this fall craft, you’ll need:


  • Candy corn
  • Construction paper
  • More green pipe cleaners
  • Glue (A hot glue gun is best. Offer to help children glue on their petals)
  • Marker or buttons for the flower’s center
  • Scissors

First, encourage children to lay out their flower pattern. Once kids know where they want to place the flowers, help them hot glue a button or draw a circle to form the flower’s center. Next, glue on the candy corn “petals” so that the white tips are touching the center. Repeat these steps for the rest of the flowers. Now, using pipe cleaners, create stems and petals and glue them onto the paper! Simple and cheerful fall flowers.


What are some of your favorite fall crafts? Sound off in the comments below!


Written by: Parker Jones
Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Growing Together: The Importance of Mixed Age Groups in Developmental Play

One of the best things about age-inclusive childhood play is that it provides an opportunity for younger children to learn from their older peers. And likewise, older kids, as they teach their friends the ropes, learn important lessons in teaching, patience, and empathy.


By interacting with kids of all ages, children learn teamwork, tolerance, social skills, and more importantly, a slew of exciting new games. Read on to discover the developmental benefits of mixed-age play and fabulous games your whole tribe can play.


Benefits for Older Children


Mixed-age play allows older children to take the reins and try on a leadership role. For instance, babysitting and interactive play provides them with important skills they can take into adulthood, as well as newfound maturity and a sense of responsibility. Another excellent example of this dynamic appears in tutoring and homework help. Did you know that studies show that by teaching younger peers, older kids reveal increases in measurements of responsibility, empathy, and altruism? They also solidify their knowledge of school subjects. As Phil Collins says in the iconic song from the movie Tarzan, “In learning, you will teach, and in teaching, you will learn.” Mixed-age play provides essential life and developmental skills for kids at every stage.


The Benefits for Younger Children


Young children will learn by example and attempt games and tasks that seemed intimidating without an older peer to guide them. For instance, shy or nervous kids might be more inclined to swing with no booster seat when their older brother or sister gives them a friendly push. Active play, like basketball, vertical climbers, and rock walls are less frightening with an older friend to catch them.


Mutually Beneficial Development


In a sense, mixed-age play can facilitate “good clean family fun.” Because older children are forced to be mindful of their young companions, they’re more likely to be gentle, fair, and compassionate during playtime. And younger kids will benefit immensely from the opportunity to learn and grow with a wise pal by their side. Games are likely to be less competitive, dangerous, and more focused on teamwork. That is, as long as parents lay out some safety guidelines ahead of time.


Communicating Clear Expectations


It’s important for parents to set out rules for children before they interact with other age groups. Here are some handy rules of thumb:


  • Respect each other’s boundaries.That means respecting their physical space and not pushing them to do anything that’s truly uncomfortable. Sure, it’s okay to encourage friends to overcome, say, a fear of heights and go down the spiral slide. But help children to be mindful of the fact that everyone develops at their own speed.
  • Emphasize the importance of teamwork and sharing.Encourage children not to dominate one another in sports, especially when a younger child is just learning the ropes or struggling with coordination. And urge children to share toys and accessories. When playing on playground structures, reiterate the importance of following proper safety guidelines. And parents, it’s a good idea to seek out play structures and parks that accommodate a wide range of age groups and interests. Look for playsets that feature social and creative toys, as well as physical “events” like bridges, tunnels, crawlers, and slides. For children who need ADA accessibility, ground-level activities are ideal.
  • Praise kids when they succeed. Children are going to make mistakes. Being gentle and respectful of other people’s needs and abilities takes time and practice. When your child does an excellent job of playing well with others, give them positive reinforcement. It’ll encourage them to keep up the excellent work.

Great group games for mixed-age play:


  • Crafts and creative play - Artistic activities are fantastic because they can be modified to accommodate different age groups. For instance, toddlers can fingerpaint while older children follow along to painting tutorials on Youtube, employing paintbrushes, sponges, and found materials to express themselves. The same principle applies to dough and clay modeling, toothpick construction, and blocks.
  • Hide and seek - This is an excellent game for younger kids because they can use their tiny statures to their advantage, while older kids search for them. It’s relatively safe, requires minimal effort, and can be played indoors or outdoors. Just make sure you establish boundary zones and articulate any off-limits areas ahead of time.
  • Playground bonding - What is sweeter than watching an older child patiently show a young friend the ropes? Not much. Older children gain a sense of responsibility and pride from pushing tots on the swingset or demonstrating slide-riding abilities for a nervous friend. They’ll learn empathy and compassion—some of the most essential skills.

We want to hear from you! Do your children enjoy playing with kids of all ages? How has it benefited your family? Sound off in the space below.
Written by: Parker Jones