Friday 19 April 2013


Can I flip it?
Yes I can!
Yesterday, Danny got home from school and found that the strong wind had finished off the demolition job he'd begun on his den and the bits of timber were lying scattered about. After a bit of discussion about whether a big bad wolf had come to "huff and puff it" while he was out, he moved on to some very entertaining rubber-duck-flipping. He put a short plank across another piece of wood like a seesaw, carefully placed a little blue duck on one end, and stamped hard on the other. It was surprisingly effective! The rubber duck soared high into the air in a very satisfactory way and he kept up with this game for quite some time. He also tried with a ball, but found that the ball rolled off the plank before he could get to the other end to jettison it. Eventually he stamped so hard the plank came up and hit him on the head- lesson learned!
It reminded me of that tv program "Whose Line is it Anyway?" where the contestants were given a prop and had to think of as many uses for it as they could. Planks have been used for a lot of stuff in our garden, some of which I know I've mentioned already in this blog and others a bit more random, so here's a run down of a few!
  • Dens:
Making the plank roof.
This will be the chimney!
Inside the plank tent.
Danny's most recent, and not very wolf-proof den, was made out of bits of board with planks to make the roof. He even filled it with leaves to make it cosy. But an easier and more effective one they made involved creating a tent out of a bedspread hung over a plank and weighted down with stones along the edges. As you can see, there was not quite room to stand up, but again they filled it with random bedding and toys and made it all homely.

  • See-saws 
When's it going to tip?
A like-a-bike challenge
See-saws in parks are generally too big for little kids- their legs don't touch the ground and they're not heavy enough to make their end go down, which means poor mummy has to put in most of the effort. But a plank across a log gives the same effect, although it is a bit less stable! Walking over a low seesaw can feel quite risky because they're never quite sure where the tipping point will be, and biking over it is fun too because you suddenly tip and roll.

Martin made this temporary see-saw for the boys and it worked really well, tho looking at the picture now I can't believe they didn't keep tumbling off! They definitely had lots of fun with it:

  • Balancing on and jumping off
I talked about using planks for balancing in my post on gross motor skills. We've used fixed ones and movable ones at various different heights and the boys have gained a lot of confidence physically from learning to walk along them. They also love jumping off of course!
It's a long way down!
That's more like it.

  • Ramps 

We've had lots of plank ramps for endless wheeled toys to drive up and down, for bikes to do jumps over, and even for the kids to climb up.

  • Tool practice
For small boys, there is nothing better than to be allowed to use real tools. The boys were allowed to play with bits of timber while Martin was constructing part of the climbing frame, and really enjoyed banging in nails and screwing in screws. It was great for their fine motor skills and they managed not to injure themselves or each other because they took the task so seriously, having been given a health and safety briefing about the responsibility of handling real tools correctly by Daddy!

  • Other randoms
Zac, being a very keen draw-er has used the balance planks as an outdoor desk.

Modelling the soggy-trousers look
Art in the long grass.

Danny once spent a lot of time being a surfer by lying on a plank and shouting "paddle... paddle... pop-up!" before falling off onto the grass and pretending to be eaten by a shark! Plus they both used the plank as a cat walk when their big sister became a model and they thought they'd rather like to do some modelling too!
And if, like us, you're likely to leave a plank lying around on the grass for days after you've finished playing with it you can investigate what happens to the grass it covers and which creatures set up home underneath it.
So there you go. It's even possible to be creative with  something as basic as a plank of wood. What else could we try?

Toy coconut shy.
Plank riding?!

Here's a clip of the professional prop-guys to make you chuckle:


  1. Tee hee I love this! Isn't it amazing what little boys can find to 'tinker' with...your boys are so cute :)

    1. Thank you Suzanne, they keep me on my toes!

  2. what a really lovely post!I am so impressed with how many things you can actually do with a plank!

    Thanks for linking up with #magicmoments x

  3. Brilliant post - but is it the same plank in ebvery picture? You're very brave letting boys loose with hammer and nails even with a Health and safety briefing.

  4. Uuum, we do have a "favourite" plank, which gets used for most things, but it's quite heavy and probably would have clobbered Dan if he'd used it for his rickety den roof! As regards tools, I reckon a bit of pain is the quickest way to learn a new lesson ;) x

  5. Absolutely brilliant what you can do with a simple object like that - great imagination. Good stuff

  6. Great Post! never knew there was so much you could do with a plank of wood :-) Love the concentration look on your boys face when screwing in the screw

  7. Wow! I never thought about how many things you can do with a plank of wood. Thanks for sharing these lovely photos and ideas.

  8. Absolutely love this post :) how amazing to find so many different things to do with one piece of wood! Very inspiring x

  9. So many wonderful play activities with the wonder of wood and children's imaginations and creativity. Thanks for linking up and sharing your great outdoor fun with Country Kids.

  10. I so love how your boys play and explore!! and den building is so something i ought to have a go at it x

  11. I love all these ideas for creative play. We have lots of fun with milk bottles as water jugs, scoops, buckets, mud pie mixing bowls! It is fun to give them something and see where their imagination takes them

  12. Thanks all, it's really down to the boys' creativity and imagination, tho I like to think my chaotic attitude to life means there are plenty of raw materials lying around to work with!

  13. Brilliant! Actually so much more fun for them doing all sorts of things with the plank than a playground set as it allows their imaginations to soar while having fun outdoors.

  14. So many things that a kid can do with just fe pcs of wood! Creative =) #LetKidsBeKids

  15. This is great, so much imagination and fun! #LetKidsBeKids