I saw a paddle pop door in my online travels, and thought it to be a perfect addition to extend the play area we’ve slowly created around a backyard tree. I can see this idea used by the kids on cardboard boxes and other places too. In this instance, before the kids came home from school, I spent snippets of time making two doors for outdoor use. Below is how I put it together.
8 Paddle Pop (or Popsicle) Sticks
PVA Glue (waterproof – which most of them are)
Map Pins (optional)
1. Lay 6 paddle pop sticks next to each other.
2. Using scissors, trim the remaining two sticks so they fit across the door (have the rounded ends hanging over a little). I did one door with two bars and one with three.
3. Glue the reinforcing bars on the top of the 6-paddle-pop-stick-row. Once glue is relatively dry, paint the door if desired. I don’t expect these little doors to last a long time, but I put a coat of Jo Sonja’s Gloss Varnish – Indoor & Outdoor Use over the top which will help protect them for outdoor use.
5. As these doors will go outside, I’m using PVA glue and map pins that act like nails into the tree. Place glue all over the back of the door before pressing it into position on a tree.
6. This is the only tricky part. I tried small nails, but due to the fragility of the paddle pop sticks, the wood split, so I used map pins instead. After pressing the paddle pop stick to the tree, I used a small hammer to (very gently) tap in the map pins. This is a hazard (in the unlikely event they fall out) so I’ll keep an eye on them in the upcoming weeks. Glue (without pins) would work too, but won’t last as long.
7. For the red door, I used only one pin (as the door handle) to hold in place as the glue dries.
Everything was dry by the time the kids were home from school on a Friday afternoon. The girls found the small dolls and my son his dinosaur figurines from the playroom, decorated around the doors with rocks and flowers, and set up a game underneath the shade of the tree.
We made a Twig Ladder for the tree over four months ago, and I’m surprised to say but here it still is going strong! It sits just above where I put the red door. Hello there Flynn Rider!
Family Dynamics in Play
I don’t know if anyone else has this challenge: having only the one boy (the youngest) and three girls, I’ve noticed increasingly my son struggle to fit in the girl’s games (but desperately wants to). His type of games are smashing toys together, toys fighting, fast cars, toys diving into dirt, and the girls find this disruptive to their game after a while. My heart goes out to my son who I can see is really trying to play. It’s something I’ve been working on with the kids, because I notice the “he wrecks everything” message has started to sink in and affect him, and yet much of the time it’s simply a different type of play the girls don’t value. I can see it from their point of view too though!
Interesting dynamics, and I’m still trying to work out how to handle it. Parallel play works well sometimes, so they play together, but apart. So in this instance, when son brought out the dinosaurs, I heard the girls go, “Don’t bring the dinosaurs here!” I reminded the two playing girls, that he was allowed to contribute to the game too, so have a think about how it could work.
Fascinating: later I was asked to come out later to see the ‘porthole’ which acts like a doorway to another world, Dinosaur World, where my son had set up in another section of the garden. He seemed very pleased with the arrangement and both worlds meshed well this time.
And then, in the morning, as I prepared a special Saturday breakfast, I snuck out and noticed the two youngest contining their game from the afternoon before. It all started with the inspiration of a few paddle pop stick doors.
It’s been over 6 months since we made these little doors for the backyard tree. I’m surprised to say they are still there holding strong and this is what they look like.
DebsAugust 24, 2013 at 12:34 pm
What a lovely idea to make them for little outdoor tree doors. Love it! We shall have to make some more 🙂
katepickleAugust 25, 2013 at 3:11 pm
Oh I just love the way your kids worked out a way for both types of play to co-exist. We’ve been working on similar things here – though more how the big kids can include the three year old in their play without him ‘ruining everything’… which I know he does but when I ask them to find a way to include him I am almost always impressed with the lateral thinking and caring they display. 🙂
Frau_MahlzahnAugust 26, 2013 at 1:44 am
Oh, yes, I can relate, ;-). In our case, it’s not only one boy in the middle of two girls, but they are also all about 4 1/2 years apart in age… That makes it really hard for him to find his place — not always welcome with his oldest sister and her friends, and also way to wilde for joining his little sister and her friends… So it’s a stressful situation.
I love the paddle doors — I’ve been looking at the fairy doors you wrote about a while back, but found them way too expensive. I’ve been thinking about making one myself, so the paddle pops will work perfectly.
alanaAugust 26, 2013 at 3:09 pm
we also find this with two girls and one boy. I find that my son likes to include baddies and heroes etc in his games and usually the girls go along with it…but later when he is playing on his own you will find his toys doing all sorts of crazy things that the girls wouldn’t let him do haha….love the little doors..they are cute!
JodeAugust 27, 2013 at 2:31 pm
How sweet are those doors…what a fantastic way to encourage imaginative play and so easy to do! I am totally in love with your twig swings though and will have to try a few of those! Thanks for sharing x
JodeAugust 27, 2013 at 2:31 pm
Meant twig ladders…just so you know I am not nuts hehe
KellyAugust 27, 2013 at 5:58 pm
Love how they set up a portal between the worlds, a lovely way to play together in compromise. And the pop stick doors are delightful, they are so great at the base of the trees!
firstname.lastname@example.orgAugust 27, 2013 at 9:25 pm
I love your fairy series. We made a fairy ladder after reading your post. Will have to try the door next.
Kate - An Everyday StoryAugust 27, 2013 at 11:16 pm
oh oh oh I love it! I am really loving your magical little backyard world. So lovely xx
Kirsten McCullochAugust 28, 2013 at 3:30 pm
Oh I love it! What an awesome little bit of magic to add to the yard! Isn’t it amazing how something so simple can spark the imagination and lead to a whole lot of unanticipated play?
Bek @ Just For DaisyAugust 28, 2013 at 9:33 pm
This is super cute!! I find a similar issue with our age gap at the present time.. although two girls they don’t quite play the same at the moment and Miss 1 is desperate to join in but can’t… you know the scene?!?! Anyhew, I love these doors and think we’ll add one or two to our outdoor play area… but Daddy’s not into fairies.. hmm…
Danya BanyaAugust 28, 2013 at 10:38 pm
I love these doors. I have some stumps in the backyard that I might do this with and see if I can get JJ to play down there (as it’s a bit of an used area at the moment). Oh and if it’s any consolation we struggle at the moment with JJ (3 years) and Bee (11 months) as Bee grabs at everything JJ is playing with. I hate it when I hear JJ screaming “Mum, pick Bee up, she’s wrecking it” cause I know she’s starting to understand…
Nathalie BrownAugust 29, 2013 at 12:36 pm
Oh my super cute extension of open ended play
Elise @ Creative Play CentralAugust 29, 2013 at 7:30 pm
I love that feeling of seeing your children continue on with a play scene from the previous day. I can relate as I have a boy in between two girls and there are three and a half years between my three children. My girls are right into fairies and at the moment my son is into construction, puppies and gardening so we are lucky that their current interests seem to often complement each other. That has not always been the case and then it can be a challenge.
I think we will be creating some popsicle stick doors. I can’t wait to see how my children incoporate them into their play.
Renèe adventuresathomewithmumAugust 29, 2013 at 8:51 pm
Those magical little doors look super cute & so simple for kids to do them self
Ness @ One Perfect DayAugust 30, 2013 at 4:39 pm
This was so lovely to read. How wonderful that you were able to let them resolve their own issue without dictating to them. The last pic of them playing together harmoniously is beautiful.
Kylie @ Octavia and VickySeptember 1, 2013 at 12:33 pm
Simply adorable and adorably simple 🙂
Kate LloydSeptember 1, 2013 at 1:46 pm
I love the simple nature of this and how it would open up endless play ideas.
ChelseaSeptember 1, 2013 at 4:46 pm
What a lovely addition to play! I never know what to do with popsicle sticks but this is a great idea.
HannahSeptember 2, 2013 at 8:28 pm
How adorable! I love the ladder too. What a wonderful read. I can so relate to this. My two-year-old boy has a reputation for ‘ruining my 4-year-olds games. Your girls resolved their problem beautifully.
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