An old shelving or storage unit or (as we used) a thrift store baker's rack can be spruced up for duty with a fresh coat of paint. We applied rust-resistant spray paint, a good choice for outdoor use.
Make it easy to find supplies for different activities by storing them in labeled bins. Go for sturdy containers that can stand up to a little weather. We used rubber tubs, customized with chalkboard tape (available at craft stores). Tubs, $2.49 to $31.99, tubtrugs.com
Make it easy to find supplies for different activities by storing them in labeled bins. Go for sturdy containers that can stand up to a little weather. We used fruit crates, sanded and coated with acrylic paint to protect fingers from splinters.
For a learning element, let kids choose some "pet plants" at the garden center. Have them pot them up in painted cans (for safety, cover any sharp edges with duct tape), and set them in the sun whenever they play.
Stock a small cooler with ice, drinks, and snacks each morning. We tagged this unit with acrylic paint and stencils.
Playing outside, little feet get grimy. Set this foot-washing station—a plastic basket filled with smooth rocks—in a spot with good drainage, close to your home's door, to keep dirt from coming inside. Kids stand in the basket and hose their toes; the dirt drains away through the rocks while the station stays clean. Keep a towel nearby for drying.
Stock the shelves with these entertaining supplies:
sunscreen and insect repellent (set high in a "Potions" box)
yard games and balls
kids' gardening tools