DIY Project! Creating a sensory play area outside!

I love Pinterest(who doesn’t!) and  stumbled across this great blog post about creating a sensory walking path outside for their child. I loved it!
What a fantastic idea. I love sensory ideas. They are a great learning experience for kids. Textures, smells, touch, it just gets to kids. Even adults.

I WANTED to do this. Unfortunately, our yard…while large, doesn’t really have a good spot for a path.  Not without cutting the yard in half, or a lot of digging to install it where we have just dirt and even then….. not sure if it would work or look good. What to do? What to do???

Wait, I just installed a large paver patio on the backside of the garage FOR the daycare kiddos. It was so we had a nice, stable place in the afternoons for the water table, picnic table and rocking fish. The backside of the garage is shaded in the HOT afternoons and a nice, clean, dry surface like pavers helps us using the water table repeatedly. Those 12 inch squares are pretty easy to install and are pretty darn easy to take out. Nice grid pattern, I could work with this.

Now to plan and plot! First, out with a tape measure, piece of paper and pen on our next afternoon play time. While they ran and burned off that energy, I measured, drew, measured again, wrote down ideas, crossed them out and walked back in the house with an idea. A heck of an idea! It would cost me approx. $25 and lots of leftover scraps but when it was done, it should be SPECTACULAR!

I wanted to do a grass sensory area, a river rock, a log, and a stump area. Removal of 12 pavers total with an idea to reuse them right next to it.


  • Grass. Grass needs water, regularly. I decided to put it in the area right under our rain barrel. Removed 2 pavers to create a 12″ x 24″ area. Grab a roll of sod. Yep, it is larger than we needed but I can use the extra elsewhere. Cut to fit, drop it in the spot and make sure we water it regularly.






  • Next I wanted to encase the larger 24″ x 60″ area in landscape timbers to give it soft edges and secure all the different zones into a pattern or grid. In the original blog post, they did a nice long, winding path and each step was a whole different zone.


  • Cut landscape to secure it on all side. PLUS the 12 pavers that I removed were getting installed in that dead space next to the patio so the rocking fish could move THERE and give us the space.  Secure it all. It has got to be safe and secure.

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  • First section was 2 chunks of landscape timber, cut in 1/2 via the hubby and his table saw, then screwed to a scrap of plywood and dropped in the spot. I added some sand around the edges to keep it from shifting, even the tiniest bit.


  • Then add a divider of landscape timber. Onto section 2.
  • River rocks. Dump a whole bag of smooth river rocks. Done.


  • Add another divider of landscape timber.  Onto section 3.
  • This one was to be stump ends, set at different levels in concrete. We were cutting down a GIANT lilac bush and I saved all the branches. We cut them down into 3 and 4 inch chunks. When we got done, we had only enough for the 3rd section. *sigh. OK.


  • What to do??
  • I had a bag of sand leftover from securing the pavers. BINGO.
  • Had enough of the landscape timber to turn section 3 into section 3 and 4.
  • Dump sand into the newly created section 4.


  • I have now created 5 sensory areas with room for the water table, the picnic table AND the rocking fish has its own space.

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  • The only issue was, we have a lot of neighborhood cats. Cats like to use sand as a potty box. YUCK. Created a quick little lid for the sand and voila! Cat proof!

Kids can touch and smell the grass. We can cut it with our school scissors to maintain it.

They can walk on all the areas with their bare feet.

They can use water from the water table to change the color and texture of the gravel and sand.


The stumps and logs are smooth and rough under their feet and hands.

All great for science learning as well about matter for kids! Nature! Unlimited potential.


FYI, did you know that the heart of lilac wood(especially the branches) has a purple color to it! Check out this picture! I think our next learning will be a plant lesson to figure out WHY?!


Stay tuned for further adventures of Preschoolers Day by Day!!