Brandon Jarvis realizes the importance of getting her kids outside and playing. A mother of five with a background in early childhood development, she began creating outdoor playgrounds last year to encourage her children to connect with nature. Using found objects and looking through a local dump, this “Enchanted Forest” has evolved to include 12 themed play stations.
“In building these spaces, I believe that I’m encouraging the kids to ‘think outside of the box.’ With every item that we gather and upcycle, we help the environment, save some money, and best of all, we see value and potential in what another deemed useless and broken. It’s problem solving and creativity and it also feels good for the soul!” says Jarvis.
It all began with the brainstorm to create an outdoor kitchen, affectionately dubbed “The Dirty Diner,” where Haliburton’s best mud treats are made.
“The kids bake mud cookies, digging, scooping, and measuring out the ingredients, preheating the ‘log stove’ and then serving them on a beautiful antique tray, at a sweet little stump table, set for two. They play for ages in this area!”
Jarvis really emphasizes the importance of getting her children outside: “The benefits of playing outdoors are endless. I believe it is the perfect space to practice all of those new and developing skills, to move freely, breath deeply, and get dirty. We all feel better after playing in the fresh air.”
Jarvis is constantly coming up with new crafts and play areas for her kids to enjoy. At the moment, her favourite area contains a domed safety mirror surrounded by rocks and gems, which act as natural building blocks for the kids to play with.
“I love the play that happens in this space and I’m so drawn to the mirror—the reflection of the trees is stunning.”
Whether the kids are baking delicious mud treats, fishing out of their “Sandy Bottom Boat,” or finding the next object to transform, Jarvis is happy to be sharing her passion with her online community. “There’s so much interest in educating children outdoors, in upcycling, and in play-based learning—but also just the art behind creating these magical areas. For young or old—they’re captivating.”