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Fun with Logs

At first I was feeling guilty that this post is long overdue – we started the series back in May after all. But now I’m thinking it might be just the time to re-visit the idea of natural outdoor play spaces. With summer coming to an end, so too is the time for running through the sprinklers and planting vegetable gardens. The return of cool, crisp fall weather is actually quite perfect for a more rustic approach to outdoor play.

So I thought I’d give you a peak at the last element of our backyard natural play space.  If you haven’t been following this series, you’ll want to check out our post How to Set Up Natural Play Spaces in Your Own Backyard for details on what we’re up to.  The rest of you will remember that we started with the sandbox from last year and had moved on to a bit of landscaping.

Today I’m unveiling phase three: our log station.  This was what I envisioned as the main component of our project from the very start.  The only problem being I wasn’t really sure where to source the logs.  When my father-in-law mentioned that some large trees were being cut down near his home, I jumped at the chance and asked him to salvage a few stumps for me.  (If you don’t have similar luck, it might be worth checking out Craigslist for people giving away stumps.  Just be aware – logs from unknown sources may harbor unwanted bugs and other pests.  You can likely also purchase stumps from your local lumber yard.)

As you can see, the stumps were a big hit.  We have ours placed in a circle for now but may transition to a zig zag formation down the road.  As they are, the kids love using them for climbing, jumping, sitting, congregating with their friends and building.

Which leads us to our other tree-related score.  Along with the stumps, I also asked my in-laws to nab me some “mini stumps” made from the trees branches.  You may recall, these were referred to as “loose parts” in the first post in this series.  Think of these as natural building blocks.  They’re really wonderful for open-ended outdoor play.

Along with building sculptures like the ones above, my littles also love to use their trucks to transport the pieces from one end of the yard to the other – for endless amounts of time.

I really hope that this series has inspired some of you to look beyond the plastic when it comes to setting up outdoor play spaces.  If you’d like to read the entire series, you can find it here.  And if you’ve created some natural play spaces of your own I’d love to hear about them!



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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Rachel September 12, 2012 at 7:50 am

I havent tried this, but it reminds me of how many playgrounds are set up in Germany. We were stationed there for three years and I loved, loved the German parks. We lived on a base where we had the traditional American park with everything padded, but then there was a German park right outside the base that was so amazing. “Logs” set up to jump from, a huge spider-web type crawling apparatus, long logs set up like stilts to walk from one to the next, a treehouse, even boulders (real ones) to climb and jump from. Some of the parks had ziplines. They were amazing!

I would definitely try this if I had a bigger backyard–talk about cheap entertainment!


Karen September 12, 2012 at 7:14 pm

Great idea!!!! So very excited about this. We have an absolutely beautiful lot and just celebrated living here one year. It’s a wooded lot, just under 3 acres and we just cut down 2 huge trees! My hubby took it upon himself to cut one of the trees up for firewood…what a long, tiring process. He is going to love that we can cut the other tree up for the boys! Thanks for sharing your creativity. Can’t believe I didn’t think of something like this. So glad I’m a regular reader of your blog. :)


Helen September 12, 2012 at 8:48 pm

Steph, great timing on your post. We live opposite a park and the other day we woke up to one of the trees being cut down. I ran across the street and talked the guys into delivering some big logs to our house!

I was thinking about turning them into a picnic table and little benches. Now, I’m thinking I might use them more for building.

The possibilities are endless and perhaps I need more…


Twisted Cinderella September 13, 2012 at 9:52 am

Wow, what great ideas!


Michelle September 13, 2012 at 10:07 am

This is such a fun idea! Now I’m going to have to dig through our wood pile for some logs to cut up for outdoor blocks.


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