Inspired by a recent article in Family Fun Magazine and a desire to have easily accessible activities for my kids, I decided to make an outdoor activity center.
After rescuing a sturdy metal shelf from my donation pile, I decided against spray painting it for now. I like the shiny black color, and if it starts showing signs of rust, I will clean it and use a primer and rust-resistant spray paint made for metal.
Ideally, you would place your ‘activity center’ under a covered area to protect it somewhat from the elements. For now, ours is in the little fort area because it is partially covered. Because my cart is pretty small, I want to add wheels to the bottom to make it easy to roll into the garage when needed.
Next, I shopped my house and collected tubs and containers that won’t get ruined outdoors. Plastic milk crates, plastic shoe boxes with lids, and metal nut or coffee cans with plastic lids were my top choices. I also had a few plastic baskets from the dollar store for things that don’t need to be covered. I spray painted the metal cans and the shoe box lids to make things more colorful. Labels on everything help both kids and adults return items to their designated boxes.
Family Fun Magazine suggested some supplies: sidewalk chalk, sand toys, bubble mix, washable paints, outdoor games and balls, kid’s gardening tools, flashlights and jump ropes. I also added water beads, colored salt and metal trays for writing letters. To keep things interesting, we will also have a rotating ‘nature’ box where they can collect things like rocks, leaves or whatever we happen to be observing that week. A large plastic tub with a lid is great for storing outdoor pillows for reading, or towels and blankets for swimming and fort building.
Add a tub of ice to keep water bottles cold, a small cooler for snacks and you have all the ingredients for several hours of outdoor fun. Pop open a large umbrella for shade, and don’t forget the sunscreen!