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Building A Play Centre In Your Own Back Garden

Investing in a large piece of play equipment for your garden will encourage your children to get outside, burn off some energy and enjoy some exercise. A climbing frame or swings and slide set can provide years of entertainment, but can also look a little lonesome if they are the only child-friendly item in your garden,

To perk up your outdoor play space and add interest to your garden, here are some cheap and easy ideas for your children.

1. Mini City Take your toy cars outside and create a landscape of roadways for them to explore. You can use cut up rubber matting, bricks laid on their sides, strips of wood, basically anything flat you have to hand can be used to construct your roadway. If you have an old unloved toy garage, re-home it in the garden. You can add interest by sinking small bowls into the ground to act as lakes or rivers, and using blocks, decorated stones, or upside down flower pots as buildings.

2. Mud Kitchen Kids love mud, so instead of fighting the inevitable mud pie making, embrace it by laying out a separate mud pie kitchen. If you have an old toy kitchen the children have grown out of, simply move it into the garden, next to a patch of bare earth. Alternatively, all you need to get your kitchen started are some bowls and utensils. Dig out kitchen equipment that you no longer used (most people have a cupboard full lurking somewhere), and dig over a patch of ground so it can be easily used to make mud.

3. Outdoor Chalkboard The jumbo outdoor chalkboards typically found outside pubs and restaurants are relatively inexpensive to buy, and will liven up your back garden. Attach to fence posts erected in the lawn, or hang on the back of the house to create an outdoor classroom.

4. DIY Inspiration DIY stores are a great source of inspiration for cheap play ideas. A stretch of guttering makes a great ramp for cars to race down, or a length of tubing can be run from the top of the climbing frame to the bottom and used to pour sand, water, marbles, or toy cars down.

5. Bug Box Set up a cheap bug observation station. Take a clear plastic under-bed storage box with a lid and fill with soil, then hunt around the garden for critters to put inside it. You can get small bug boxes to ctach them in, and magnifying glasses for observations relatively easy. You will also need a small plastic syringe or pipette for dispensing drops of water into the box to keep them moist. In the evening set the mini beasts free, and the soil, by dumping them out into a flower bed, then all your equipment will neatly pack inside the box ready for next time.

You don't need to spend thousands of pounds to create a playground in your own back garden. Start with a large piece of play equipment, then build smaller activities around that, adding new ones each year to maintain interest.

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