Summer School Holiday Idea: Create a Magical Play Space

One of the things I love about school holidays is the opportunity to think big about play. I aim to think of play, not only in sessions, but over days and weeks. Creating play environments is a perfect example of this because it starts with the building phase, then the play phase, and the play evolves with the environment. It’s wonderful to watch the kids play like this.  The Summer days are long, so the children are particularly enjoy playing in the late afternoon, from 3.30 to about 6 pm.

Below is one of the school holiday activities the children enjoyed. We did it in two parts.

Part 1: Decorate an Outdoor Tree

Recently, the kids and I made handmade Christmas Tree decorations. As we finished each decoration, we hung them on the trees outside.  The decorations looked pretty on the trees, so we left many of them there because they were cheap to make, and most decorations were made of relatively weather proof materials, for example, the pine cones, button wreath and chocolate case decorations. Spoons also make for a wonderful outdoor tree decoration; this is the spoon mobile we made last year: Fairy House or Pirate Trap.

This is a fun activity for kids in the lead up to Christmas.  You don’t even have to make your own decorations: a box of cheap baubles work well too.

school holidays ideas -- decoration an outdoor tree

Part 2: Extend to a Fantasy Play Space

I’ve seen play space ideas pop up everywhere, like this one from Picklebums, and here at KleenexMums. I love the concept because it’s like making your own toys and is full of creative potential. The idea is to create a mini play environment with toys and items you have around the house. I’ve set out below an example on how we created a play environment.

1. Tree House

My son and I had previously painted a Santa House and we placed this between some branches to create the Tree House. A tree house can be made of a piece of wood, thick cardboard, painted or unpainted box, plastic container or anything else you can think of.

school holiday ideas -- play space tree house

2. Fairy Food Cups

I attached mini patty cake cases on to a few leaves with craft glue. Later, while the kids were playing, I put cachous in. The kids  thought it was such a fun surprise when they found them!

school holidays -- play space

3. Fairy House Play Space

In a fruit box, we found a range of related items to create a fairy play space. It was the children’s idea to put pegs around the box. I pretty much gave them the concept and they ran with it. These are the materials we used:

  • Box
  • Pegs
  • Piece of wood
  • Wood chips
  • Stones
  • Shells
  • Duplo
  • Fairy
  • Gift box

play space -- fairy land

4. Set up

To make the area comfortable for the kids, I put down our Recycled Mat, and then placed our Strawberry Jam floor cushions down.

school holiday ideas -- play space

5. Toys

As the children played, they added toys, and other things like the bricks from the Rock Garden to the mix.

school holiday ideas -- play spaces

play space outside

6. Packing up

Packing up wasn’t difficult.  We left the outdoor tree decorations, packed up the mat and brought the toys, cushions and play space box inside.  I wanted to make it easy to set up again in case the kids wanted to play the next day.  In the morning, I found these two playing with the play box inside.

This sort of creative play takes a little effort to set up but I find the play lasts for days so is well worth it.

More School Holiday Ideas Posts

More Extended Play  School Holiday Ideas

how to make a play garden 3

Rock Garden

school holiday ideas -- op shop cubby house

OpShop Cubby

photo dolls family

Photo Dolls

White Christmas Snow Diorama

Snow Diorama



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  • Reply
    December 16, 2011 at 7:18 am

    My in-laws just gave us the large box from mother-in-law’s new sewing machine. I have been thinking about what to do with it (I know the possibilities are endless!). Now I have another great idea. Thanks

    • Reply
      Kelly Be A Fun Mum
      December 16, 2011 at 4:51 pm

      You’re welcome! You’re right: the possibilities are endless!

  • Reply
    December 16, 2011 at 8:39 am

    The best thing about creating an imaginative play space is that it’s just a beginning… it’s a little something that you know your kids are interested in, which almost always turns into something even more wonderful once they start playing!

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    December 16, 2011 at 8:09 pm

    Lots of great ideas – thanks!
    We live in an apartment building without our own garden, so we focus on indoor play spaces. This week, my two girls built an elaborate cubby house in their bedroom using sheets pegged to chairs, and they have even created separate rooms (kitchen, bedroom, dining room, etc). It takes up most of their shared bedroom, but I have let them leave it intact for several days. It brings them so much pleasure to continue their game, and it’s such multi-dimensional play – they build the physical setting, they role-play, they dress up as different characters and use all kinds of props. Every day the game changes and evolves. Wonderful!

    • Reply
      Kelly Be A Fun Mum
      December 18, 2011 at 11:26 am

      Loved reading that. Perfect example. It’s all about the concept of extended play isn’t it. I believe kids learn so much from this type of play.

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    Hampton Swim School
    June 23, 2015 at 11:37 pm

    ohhh this is just adorable!! We have been collecting some unusual pebbles on our adventures so now I know what we can do with them these school holidays.

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