Here are some fabulous small backyard playground ideas that will make the kids beg to go outside. Build a tire swing, a playhouse, add a sandbox, and more!
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While we have a pretty amazing playroom indoors for the winter and rainy days, I always want to keep an exciting outdoor play space for the boys.
They’re busy kids and it is important to me that they spent a lot of time outdoors- digging in the dirt and sand, jumping in mud puddles, climbing and enjoying the sunshine. I’ve continued to improve on our outdoor kids space as much as possible to keep it attractive to them, year after year.
Today I’m bringing you a roundup of ideas for a small backyard playground that include some that I’ve shared in the past, as well as some from other bloggers. I hope you enjoy and find inspiration for your own backyard playground!
Small Backyard Playground Ideas
For introverts like us, having an AWESOME playground at home was important! We could get our kids playing outside as much as possible, making sure they get exercise and all of their wiggles out. Here are some AMAZING ideas for playgrounds and outdoor spaces for your children!
How to Build an Outdoor Playhouse for Kids
I love how open this playhouse is! It looks like an easy build and Kati has even put together a FULL woodworking plan so you can build your own!
Sometimes an old swing set functions just fine, but it could use a few "extras" to make it sparkle again. You can add a number of fun little accessories!
You know those cool setups you see at birthday parties, zoos, and other children's events?! It's EASY to build a quick and easy mobile mining setup for use at home. Kids LOVE it and it's a great way to play with rocks, sand and water without making a huge mess.
DIY Playhouse: How to Build a Backyard Playhouse for Your Toddler
Here's another open playhouse plan for a toddler! My favorite part about these open plans is being able to see inside if I want to enjoy some sunshine... as I'm always telling my kids, "I need eye contact on the 2 year old y'all."
DIY Treehouse (AKA Treehouse Master Dreams on a Treehouse Miser Budget)
I love how this blogger turned a tree infested with poison ivy into an AWESOME playground and treehouse!
Need something more portable, but can't afford an expensive plastic play set? Consider finding an old set that someone is throwing away! You can paint the plastic and make it look BETTER THAN NEW.
Building a Sandbox
Sandboxes are a MUST HAVE for every backyard playground! Who DOESN'T love playing in the sand? It's not a beautiful summer day if we aren't washing sand off my kids. If sand isn't your thing, kids love to play in rocks or dry (hard) corn, and some people find it's a great alternative.
How to Make Affordable and Easy Kids Backyard Sandbox -
Here's another sandbox, but it has an AWNING! Honestly, you REALLY need some type of cover over a sandbox unless you place it in the shade. It gets HOT playing in the sand.
We didn't have an awning on our sandbox so instead I bought this quick and easy to install shade that attached to our fence. It was a great way to add shade to the play area without breaking the bank.
DIY See Saw for Big Kids - Jaime Costiglio
Do you remember see saws from your childhood? My kids ADORE this outdoor toy and what's better than having a custom wood see saw!
DIY Backyard Playground: How to Create a Park for Kids
Sometimes I wonder which is easier- putting together the "premade" sets that come with a million screws and brackets, or just building from scratch. Here's a "from scratch" playground you can build for the kids!
Build this HUGE outdoor chalkboard for your privacy fence. Kids can play school outside, or they can use it in other creative ways!
How to Make a Fence-Mounted Kids Outdoor Chalkboard -
Here's a smaller scale outdoor chalkboard that you can move around if needed.
As an alternative to a chalkboard, you can use chalk paint to paint a small storage room door. It makes great use of the small space and gives the kids a place to write and draw outdoors.
DIY Cattle Panel Arch
I ADORE this cattle panel arch for kids. It's colorful and a great way to give them a tiny garden area to grow peas, beans, or even flowers over themselves for shade. By the time the full heat of summer hits, their garden should be beautifully shaded and cool.
Make a tire swing for some frugal family fun
Tire swings are THE BEST! I have fold memories (and probably a scar or two) from the tire swings at our elementary school playground. Does anyone else remember getting it really going, then holding onto the chains to let your legs swing out away from the actual tire? Yeah I was dangerous. My stories and I are a terrible influence on my children. But no matter how you ride them- safely or not- tires make great playground toys!
How to Make a Mud Kitchen!
One of my kids' favorite games is to play kitchen. Being able to bring that outdoors is AWESOME. Playing in the mud makes it even better. It's a great way to use nature to be creative.
Easy DIY Lemonade Stand with Video
Selling lemonade is a childhood bucket list item that helps prepare kids to be entrepreneurs. Here's a fun lemonade stand to build for the kids!
Easy DIY Kids Patio Chairs
The adults all have their own chairs so why not build some smaller chairs for the kids? Here's some adorable chairs to make!
If you can't afford to buy new or just like to save money, it's always fun to give old stuff new life. I HATE to see things head toward the landfill. We bought this plasma car for my first son in 2012 or so, then gave it a face lift! It looks FANTASTIC.
Adding a small flower box to the play house is a super cute way to give the kids a way to garden!
If you have an EXCESSIVE amount of kids toys and enough space for a shed for it all, this is a great "kids garage" to store it all. They can also use it for pretend play!
Here are our FAVORITE outdoor toys if you’re looking to purchase some new outdoor play things for your space. I can also teach you how to patch a bounce house, an unfortunate skill I picked up this summer.
Please share and pin this post! If you make this project, share it in our Stuff Mama Makes Facebook Group. We have regular giveaways for gift cards to craft stores. You can also tag me on Instagram @doityourselfdanielle; I love seeing everything you make!
Originally published June 2018. Updated May 2020.