A Natural Sanctuary in Your Outdoor Space: Backyard Summer Adventures

Quick as a wink, a little fairy friend moved into our garden with furniture from our toy box.

Every child deserves a chance to explore and learn from nature in the safety of their own backyard. Yep, even if your backyard is a porch or a balcony! Creating a natural sanctuary is as simple as inspiring a child’s natural imagination.

Who Has Time?!

If just thinking about outdoor family excursions induces groans, we invite you to relax! Even with full-throttle family and work schedules, you’re gonna love the ideas Anna tosses out. Mainly because they’re so free and easy. A natural sanctuary for your child’s imagination already exists just a few short steps away.

Fireside Talk Radio, Creating a Natural Sanctuary: Backyard Adventures.

Outdoors: Natural Sanctuary for Your Child’s Imagination

No place inspires imagination like the great outdoors. For instance, yesterday, her daughter brought Anna an egg found in their backyard.

“About the same moment she showed it to me, it was being crushed because her little fingers couldn’t figure out how to hold it delicately enough,” laughs Anna, “But she was so proud of it because she and daddy found it in the yard. He’s teaching our children to love nature right now because that’s what their Daddy does.” However, a child-like perspective differs from an adult’s, Anna warns. 

Gifts from nature often surprise Mommy. “‘Momma, Momma, look at this beautiful flower,’” Anna offers as an example, “and its some little weed they’ve pulled out of the grass!” Still, even the busiest mommy can pair nature with imagination to create natural sanctuary for kids. Enthusiastically, Anna offers four ideas for creating a natural sanctuary for your children. 

Why Imagination Matters

Nature instructs us, stirring our imagination. Stimulating your child’s imagination produces lasting benefits in all future relationships. Why? Because it’s impossible to love others without imagination.

In order to love people well, we have to empathize. Empathy requires us to imagine life from others’ perspective. Compassion means we’re able to relate to others’ needs, sorrows, and joys. Connecting with others requires our imagination. Imagination is crucial to all relationships. (Get free weekly ideas about creating great relationships, here.)

Blessedly, we fostering imagination in our children is easy. We can create a natural wonderland for inspiration in our own backyards. Any outdoor space will do. Actually, smaller is often better when it comes to creating a natural sanctuary for your child’s imagination!

Establishing Safe Boundaries

The best outdoor spaces give children safety and boundaries within the watchful attention of adults. For instance, Anna raves about the fence her father-in-law installed in a portion of their yard beneath the window where she draws. 

Not only did he create a safe environment for our mutual grandchildren. Simultaneously, he enlisted the help of our son, the children’s uncle, thus teaching him how to build a relatively inexpensive, yet beautiful fence out of wood and wire game fencing. Voila! So many people blessed by one man’s ability to imagine a fence!

“My fence is cheaper than chain link and much more beautiful,” exclaims Anna, “My toddlers have a lot more independence and freedom because I know they’re safe.” (For more cheap, family-friendly ideas, click here or listen to the above podcast.)

Providing A Canopy

Safe boundaries may also include a covering overhead. For example, there’s something so protective about a full canopy of oak trees. We all need a place set apart to unwind, relax, and let our minds rest.

“I’ve noticed with kids they want a destination, a place that’s set apart and feels special,” Anna explains, “whether it’s a fort or like my kids, a spot in the bushes where they feel safe, like it’s their secret.”

For an easy solution with toddlers in mind, Anna suggests a beach umbrella in a big pot of sand. A small chair beneath it provides an enticing place for a child’s imagination to flourish. Easy and inexpensive is the key as family needs change. Her own back yard has a sail awning secured to a nearby tree with eye hooks and rope.

Stimulating All Their Senses

As a teacher, Anna quickly suggests numerous ways to engage your children’s imagination outdoors using all their senses. For example, she mentioned planting herbs for the child who learns via taste and smell. Or, for the child who is energetic and tactile, there’s big muscle games like learning the alphabet by hopping on stones marked with chalk. Then, for those who are more audio, don’t forget wind chimes and musical instruments.

“My sweet daughter wanders around our brick planters with her plastic guitar singing to herself. Her favorite place to do that is outside,” Anna mentions. (Turtles, teenage girls, chalk, and fairy gardens? On our above podcast, Anna shares dozens more fun, even silly, things to do in the back yard. Or, click here, for more podcasts.)

Get the Grands Involved

Especially with a wise partner, outdoors stimulates all the senses. For instance, grandparents can provide a simple craft, like a birdhouse or bird feeder, to inspire the next generation of outdoor lovers.

Creating a sanctuary outside may serve multiple generations of family members. For instance, some grandparents may control their outdoor space for serious reasons, like to avoid falling.

Yet the idea of a sanctuary prompts instant family unity. Imagine a porch with planters for boundaries and twinkle lights overhead. Now, both elders and youngsters feel safe and inspired!

For instance, the fairy table pictured above is a wasabi cup. Perhaps it contains a shiny button or a marble, but I’ll never tell. Surely we all know, fairies like folks who can keep a secret.

Go Barefoot

Finally, don’t forget to go barefoot! “You always had a designated digging zone where we knew we wouldn’t get in trouble if we wanted to take a shovel and make mud,” Anna reminded me, referring to our mutual conviction that kids are happiest when they freely engage with dirt and shovels.

Honestly, as young parents, we were just relieved when their younger brother couldn’t get into their tree fort without an adult’s help. (For many more adventures from our kids’ childhood, listen to the whole podcast above. Or, click here to find more inspiring conversations.)

Intentionally Nurturing Imagination

Our family is very intentional about nurturing imagination in the next generation. The neighborhood kids were never just children in our backyard; they were princesses or pioneers or woodland creatures. Finding an abandoned barge, they instantly became adventurous, swashbuckling pirates. (For more Anna stories about tree forts, abandoned barges, pillowcase flags and oh-so-much-more information than I would have shared, listen to the whole podcast embedded above. Or, click here for more fun podcasts!)

“I think we named the boat The Explorer,” adds Anna wistfully.

When parents provide opportunities for their kids to imagine, they set in motion empathy and compassion. All of which become a real blessing for future relationships. Imagination allows us to connect with other human beings.

So, next time you trim your bushes, let the kids make a quick fort with the trimmings. But first, Anna offers one more piece of advice: “Make sure no insects, like wasps, have decided to make a home there, too!”

We Love Hearing from YOU!

How have your kids used their imaginations in your own backyard? What’s your favorite tip for creating a natural sanctuary on your porch? How do grandparents foster a love of the outdoors in your kiddos?

May I pray with you?

Dear Father, Oh, how we admire Your creation! The beauty of Your nature is reflected in all that You made! We rejoice to go barefooted in the warm sand or drop our fingers in cool water. We see Your reflection in the way a bird soars or a turtle nests. Thank you for the sunny smiles of children at play. Teach us to cozy up under the safe covering of Your love. Let us marvel at the pattern on a shell or the glory of a gentle breeze. Remind us that the growth of a flavorful herb is an expression of Your love and tender power. In Jesus’s name. Amen.

Coming Soon

Don’t forget we’re starting a series on entrepreneurship soon, featuring Yo Work Hub CEO Orrostieta and Author/Publisher/ Entrepreneur Mike Sahno! We can hardly wait!

Janet McHenry will be joining us soon to share how prayer walking fits the active lifestyle of another generation of young mothers (and grammies, like me!) And I have some more surprises toward the end of the summer, but I can’t announce them yet! So stay tuned!

Cathy Krafve, Columnist, Speaker, Blogger, Podcaster, and Christian Writer, invites your stories, ideas, and questions at CathyKrafve.com. Truth with a Texas Twang.

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A Semi-retired Mom, Queen of Fun, and Coffee Cup Philosopher Cathy Krafve pulls in exciting guests from all walks of life who rejoice in deeply spiritual truths.

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