Welcome to the latest addition to our summer backyard play spaces, the dirt pile. I consider this The Explorers’ answer to the mud pie kitchen. Not that they don’t like making the occasional mud pie; they just much prefer running cars and trucks through a pile of dirt.
How we made it:
Last fall, the hubby did some serious digging in our backyard to replace a space of grass with pavers for a seating area. The dug-up dirt has been sitting in a far-off corner of our yard ever since. All it took to make our magical dirt pile was some elbow grease – shoveling the dirt via wheelbarrow from one part of the yard to the other.
The Explorers helped select a good spot and oversaw the “building up” of the dirt pile to just the right specifications. They also wanted to add a few of the tree stumps we inherited last fall. The “ladder” leaning against the stump in the back here was a find on one of our nightly neighborhood walks.
If you don’t have unused dirt of your own, consider buying some at a local garden supply store. You don’t need much – even a small mound will do the trick.
How it’s used for nature play:
A dirt pile is a mound of possibility. Just a few ways to use it for nature play:
- Dig in the dirt with shovels & sifters
- Bury rocks, fossils & other treasures
- Add water to make rivers, puddles & mud
- Use toy dump trucks, bulldozers and such to create a “work site”
- Add other elements like tree stumps & wood boards to make bridges & planks
- Climb to the top and run down (or just run around the entire pile, depending on its size)
What the kids think:
The dirt pile is popular around here. Really popular. The Explorers love pushing their large-size trucks through the dirt, racing each other to the top of the pile. And they’re dreaming up all sorts of things they want to try this summer. I’ll keep you posted.
On a side note: These days, the kids seem to get on each others’ nerves. A lot. But I’ve noticed that they set aside their differences when they get to the dirt pile. Here they work together to play, explore and dream up new ideas.
All that from a pile of dirt.
How about you – would you consider building a dirt pile in your backyard?