Playborhood {Book Review} Creating a Kid Friendly Nieghborhood

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

How often do your kids play with neighbor kids? Do you ever feel like your kids are over-scheduled or in front of a screen too much?

We've all seen the need for kids to have unstructured play time with neighbors. Parents can help instigate this type of play by creating kid friendly zones in their yards or open spaces in their neighborhoods. This is the basic premise of the book Playborhood.

I had the opportunity to review the book Playborhood: Turn Your Neighborhood Into a Place for Play by Mike Lanza.PB_book_cover_final

Lanza created the ultimate kid friendly front and back yard to encourage free play and shares all of his tips on how to create your own Playborhood in this book. Suggestions range from common to unique such as in-ground trampolines to an interactive large neighborhood map mural on his driveway, where kids can play life-size monopoly style games. 

I liked how Lanza incorporated books into his designs and activities. He had kids create a mosaic representing the book ‘The Big Orange Splot’ and a rock village near their play river representing the book ‘Roxaboxen.’ I also love the idea of the small book exchange mail boxes set up in front yards so kids and adults can trade books.

The Playborhood book shows examples of other neighborhoods throughout the country and research showing why Playborhoods are important.  It takes planning to create a safe and inviting Playborhood and this book compiles all of the ideas you need to start creating your own.

Here is Mike with his wife and three sons. You can see more ideas on his blog, Playborhood.
You can find the Playborhood book on Amazon.

{My Playborhood}
Slow Kids at Play Sign ObSEUSSed

The past few summers I have organized a ‘park hopper’ summer calendar to invite the moms in our neighborhood to get together. We would visit different parks or go on special outings once a week.  As our kids have gotten older (not just toddlers anymore) our schedules have gotten busier and not as many moms have been able to attend. This year we decided to keep things on a smaller level and organize more play times at our homes.  Here are a few things we have done to encourage neighbor kids to come play at our house this summer.

{Stock a Summer Bucket}
summer bucket

 This bucket stays on our porch and is filled with;
  • sidewalk chalk (don’t forget the garden kneeling pads to protect their legs)
  • bubbles and bubble machine
  • jump ropes
  • water balloons, spray bottles, watering cans and water guns
  • and hula hoops hanging in the background
All of these items get played with during play dates, or unscheduled times when the neighbors just pop over to play. We also got some sno-cone flavors to make sno-cones this summer. We like to keep our picnic table stocked with a basket of fruit, otter-pops and a water jug.

Ball Bucket ObSEUSSed
We always leave this bucket of balls outside too so the kids can start a game with their friends anytime. We are lucky to live on a cul-de-sac. Our kids pull out their trikes, scooters and bikes to ride around with their friends.  They also love our driveway because it has a long slope they can glide down quickly.

Sand Box obSEUSSed back yard
We’ve had this play fort for years and the kids love playing on it, or in the sand box underneath.

{Two-Way Radios}
My children’s favorite outdoor play items have been walkie talkies. Santa brought them this past Christmas and they have been a huge hit. Anytime friends come over they break into teams and play spies, secret agents, soldiers or other games with them. Get a nice pair and they will be worth it. We love our Motorolla brand, but search around and find some that will stand up to kid use. The neighbor kids love them, and they work across the street so they can play around the neighborhood as they get older. They are amazing for encouraging team play and imagination.
{Hop Scotch Step Stones}
Another thing we have done is made Hop Scotch Step Stones. My kids painted the stones and every time their friends come over they love to use this vibrant, interactive path.  We are discussing plans to move the path closer to the house (not in the middle) so we can lay gravel and create a bocce court. Our kids love to play bocce and can’t wait to teach their friends how to play.

{Water Parties}
We also have a hot tub and we invite the kids’ friends over for hot tub parties where they soak for five minutes then run through the sprinklers.  Our neighbors across the street have a large trampoline and sand box so the kids love taking turns at each others houses. No need for everyone to have a trampoline. Below they are playing with pearler beads (the kind you iron).

I hope you enjoyed some of these ideas.  Reading Playborhood got my creative juices flowing, helping me think ‘outside the (sand) box’ for more interactive and inviting activities for children in our neighborhood. 

What do you do in your neighborhood to encourage outdoor play?

Victoria Signature 11

*Disclosure: I received a free digital copy of Playborhood for review.


Whatever Dee-Dee wants said...

LOVE this post! I am always thinking that I want my son to play with the neighbors more but I never do anything about it. When I grew up all the neighbors played together every day it was the best! I want my son to experience that.

Thanks for all the fun ideas!

Unknown said...

Those are cute ideas for play. I like the hopscotch stepping stones. I saw your blog from your blog post comment on the abcsofcrazy blog. Please stop by and link this post to Artsy Play Wednesday on Capri + 3. I hope to see you there.

P.S. Congrats to your daughter for winning the Happy meal contest.

: 0 ) Theresa

Unknown said...

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