10 Little Essential Outdoor Items

19 April 2013 · 6 comments

in 10 Outdoor Ideas Series, Early Years Outdoors, Outdoor Play, Play Resources, Urban

Very often outdoors, it’s having some small essential little items which make the difference between success and failure. For example in my bag of ropes I have 3 sticks. They are strong enough to sit upon when making a swing and save a lot of time looking a suitable stick in situ in a stick-poor school ground.

So I thought it might be quite timely to think about those other bits and pieces which make my job with children a little easier.

Here’s my little list of useful items

1. Velcro

When I talk about Velcro, I’m referring to a specific sort often called Self Gripping Ties. Most Velcro is pretty rubbish outside.  The stuff you need comes in a roll and can be cut to size. I always have bags of the stuff ready for den making. I use it for attaching objects to fences such as guttering. It doesn’t mind getting wet and is easy to use in cold weather when little hands have difficulty tying washing line or string. It is also very strong and makes a wonderful sound when being pulled apart.

2. Karabiners

We use these as informal locks on gates, to clip bags onto fences and as part of any work with ropes and pulleys. My preferred sort are real climbing karabiners. They are bigger and strong than most wimpy fake versions. Ask a climber for some old stock.

3. Karabiner Bungee Cords

These are a speciality of Poundland. They are useful washing lines and work well to wrap up bundles of sticks. They can be a helpful accessory for den building too.

4. Pegs

Having a variety of pegs for different purposes helps keep material in place, attach items on to washing lines and are just useful all round. My favourite use of giant pegs are fun for all sorts of jobs, such as being a clamp for woodwork activities or to keep tarp in place.

5. Duct Tape

This silver sticky stuff is amazing. I first encountered it in my student days when the canoe club used it to temporarily repair canoes. It remains my first line of defence for rips, splits and other repair jobs. It is also my prevention strategy. Some resources are better reinforced with duct tape prior to being played with such as these portable willow lattice dividers from Cosy.

6. Masking Tape

This can be an activity in its own right or just useful for lots of little jobs as it’s possible to write on it. Use the sticky side to make nature bracelets or collect seed when walking through long grass – just wrap a piece onto your foot – sticky side out. I love it when little children suddenly realise what they can do with masking tape…

7. S Hooks

A big thank you to Cosy for sourcing such beauties. Definitely a must buy as they can hang on willow, fences, and other places and are beautifully strong. The big hooks are especially magnificent!

8. Washing line

The yellow and blue stuff is soft, flexible and useful for all sorts of jobs such as attaching objects to fences, creating dens, using as a pulley rope. I find it easier to undo than string

9. Cable ties

I’m less of a fan than most people because I find them fiddly. However I loved these colourful ties which this nursery used to leave things outside and to keep them in the same zone.

10. Bits of fleece

I have fleece which I use for blindfolds, scarves and for lots of other impromptu uses such as a place to put sticks for a game as indicated below…

What little things do you find essential for your outdoor work? I bet everyone has a favourite or two…

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Kierna C April 19, 2013 at 16:34

Great list Juliet, and lots of ideas for me too.


Debra@Familylicious April 21, 2013 at 05:00

Gutters and pvc pipe. They are amazing for letting the children build but also for building dens and things. Plus when playing with water they are a must have.


Coombe Mill April 23, 2013 at 23:04

A lovely list of things so useful for children and outdoor play. My essential would have to be baler twine, the kids use it all the time to lash peices of wood together to build something. Thank you for sharing your ideas on Country Kids.


Mike Watson August 29, 2015 at 08:23

My 12 essentials for learning outdoors:


Juliet Robertson September 12, 2015 at 07:46

Love it! Thanks for the link to your suggestions!


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