DIY Play Area for Kiddo

I hate Pinterest! No sorry, scratch that I love Pinterest! Okay, you want the truth? I have a love/hate relationship

with Pinterest (almost like my 1 year old with her dummy at the moment).

I love it because everything is just sooooo pretty and so damn perfect!!!

And the best part most of that inspiring stuff you can do all by yourself… or so it seems…

BUT (you didn’t see that one coming, did you)? you finally attempt one of the projects on your saved wall and it’s

way more difficult than you ever imagine, it takes way more time than what you were planning on and the

end result, well let’s just say no one’s gonna pin your project on their wish-list wall.

This is my first DIY blog and for those of you who are expecting magical Pinterest results,

stop reading and go indulge in the Pinterest fantasy world.

This DIY is for real Mamas, like myself, who struggle to open the paint cans and swears at

the dog for walking ALL over the wet paint!

Ps: Introducing Luca, our ball-chasing Alsatian, because he’s pretty much in all the photos! Talk about a photo bomber!


Turn your (ugly) backyard space

Into a (pretty) play area

My husband said I should really start Budgeting, this is how we feel about the B-word…

But here goes…

You know that corner in your garden? There’s pretty much nothing going on. Nothing grows there and between the low calcium

ground and a ball-chasing-obsessed Alsatian it’s a real sore eye!

The teacher in me couldn’t resist to make this play area not only pretty BUT educational, too because:

PLAY is crucial for your little ones social, physical, emotional and cognitive growth.

Through play, kiddos exercise key skills and qualities, such as independence, creativity, curiosity, and problem-solving.

Before I get too technical, scroll down for the first 5 play corners divided into categories:

WHAT do you need?


WHY is it important for your little ones development?



(PS: it’s not as hard as it sounds)!

Corner 1: Tent

You will need:

Daddy’s tent (probably lying somewhere in the garage) = R0,00

Just do it! …

Get Daddy to set up the tent! Let kiddo give Daddy a hand, while you relax on the couch with a cappuccino

(it was after all your great idea)!

Why? …

Kids love shelter!

Remember as a kid, how you use to build tents and shelters with blankets and all kinds of materials? Children love the idea of small

spaces and secret corners! A tent is the ideal quiet place they need for play away from the disturbance of the outer world.

Imagination set free!

Children can let their imagination run wild and transform a tent into a fortress or castle, house of their

own, a hidden chamber or whatever they set their minds to be.

By encouraging creative play, tents highly contribute to the mind development of a child.

Let’s get Physical

Playing with a tent requires a lot of movement, crawling and turning which are extremely important for a healthy

development since they help coordinate the brain hemispheres.

Just add books, puzzles and toys and kiddo is also practicing their fine motor skills! Don’t know what I’m talking about check out

my previous blog Ready steady play (

Socialising time

When children play together, they learn how to interact with each other, in simple words they learn how to behave in society.

A Tent creates the perfect opportunity for individual play as well as games with others.

The designer tee-pees are lovely but Daddy’s tent is perfect for outside, weather resistant and has all the educational value

of a designer tent and the best part…

It’s FREE!

Corner 2: Cement blocks

You will need:


Cement blocks (available at Mica and Builders Warehouse)

Paint and paintbrushes (I used Plascon exterior) R60 per 1 Litre can

Just do it!

Minki was more focused on painting her vest!

And my face…

But finally we had it done…


Kiddo learn all about different colours!

Using various colours reduces passivity and boredom

Hop scotch = great for developing gross motor skills and are way more fun on colourful blocks.

Colour encourage cognitive stimulation!

Corner 3: Sandpit

You will need:

• A Shell-pit (available at Makro) = R129 on promotion! Normally R159!

• Sand (you can buy treated sand at Toy Zone) plus minus R260 per bag.

Just do it:


Fill the sandbox with sand.

Remember to keep it close (for hygienic reasons) and to keep unwanted catty visitors outside.

Keep it clean and dry.


It Is an Open-Ended Medium

Children learn the most when faced with open-ended questions and tasks, and sand is a medium that is inherently open-ended.

No matter the skill or cognitive level of the child, sand is an appropriate play object.

It Stretches the Imagination

As children begin to understand the physical properties of sand, they have the opportunity to extend their play.

It Promotes Physical Development

Muscle in the arms and upper bodies of children is developed further through sand play. By digging, pouring, sifting, and

scooping sand, children use their upper bodies and arms in ways that many of their other toys do not require

them to work.

It Promotes Cognitive Development

Children learn to problem solve as they try to figure out how to prevent their towers from continually falling over.

Did someone say Picasso?

It encourages artistic expression – children can draw pictures in the sand and build elaborate sand castles!

Corner 4: Swing

You will need:

• Any type of swing (I bought a tyre swing, next to the road) = R100.

• Rope/chains (chains are cheaper)!

• Clips = R50 for 2 at Mica.

Just do it:


Find a low hanging side branch.

Connect the chains with clips

Make sure it’s safe!


According to occupational therapist Laura Kruger:

““In essence, swinging is not only a fun activity to participate in, but also a great facilitator of both mental and physical development!”

Swinging strengthens your child’s core and helps with the development of balance.

Swinging helps develop gross motor skills – pumping legs, running, jumping, etc.

Swinging helps develop fine motor skills – grip strength, hand, arm, and finger coordination.

Physical movement through space – helps children’s brain development and their ability to pay attention.

This means kiddo could be settling down for some sustained playtime with her favorite toy,

Which means you can have a shower today! Hooray!

Corner 5: Flags

Just add flags, NO educational value but it’s PRETTY! These are the ones from our wedding, so it’s, you guessed it, FREE!



A Pretty play area packed with learning opportunities

The perfect place for young minds and little feet

To explore and reach their full potential.

Take that Pinterest!


Ps: My nails did recover and I actually love Pinterest!

Oh, and my husband loves me just a little bit more, now that I finally started budgeting!

Minki’s beautiful jacket is from Amelia Lilly Children’s Boutique

Look out for the next 5 play corners in this DIY blog Part 2 PLUS more on

Amelia Lilly Childrens Boutique…

Coming soon…


Stay Stylish XOXO Helene

/ Baby

Share the Post

About the Author

Comments (3)

  1. Hankie :

    Grandma’s kan net do baie idees hier kry. Dankie vir inligting waar om produk aan te skaf en pryd. Budget budget is the name of the game

    • Helene :

      Haha! Budget is aaklig maar so nodig! Bly jy geniet die DIY blog! Lekker speel! ?

    • Helene Olivier :

      Hallo tannie Hankie,

      Ek is baie bly jul geniet die blog! Baie dankie dat jul dit lees en like en share!

      Hoop julle het ‘n heerlike week verder!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *