After self-isolating at home for about 3 weeks I started to look into ways I could go outside with my daughter to get some fresh air and enjoy a bit of playtime. We have a small balcony on the second floor of our home that has just been collecting dust and I wanted to put it to use.
So, after doing a bit of research, I came up with a few creative ideas for how to turn a boring unused balcony into a lively play area for kids. It might be tough to cram all of these ideas onto a balcony, but one or two would definitely work.
The play area ideas that I’m going to share can be done even if you live in an apartment. They’re relatively inexpensive to set up and won’t leave behind any damage.
So, let’s take a look at how to get started!
How to Prepare Your Balcony for a Play Area
Before setting up the play area, I recommend giving it a good cleaning. Our balcony was covered in dirt, dead leaves, bird poop, you name it! First we swept and threw away all of the debris. Then we gave it a good rinse with some water until the surface looked decent.
Add Artificial Grass
Adding artificial grass is purely optional, but it certainly adds to the aesthetic of the play area and makes it look more natural. Our balcony floor is just a plain boring grey color of concrete.
Although the surface is smooth, I worry that my daughter may injure herself if she falls down.
That’s why we’re planning to cover our balcony floor with artificial grass. It’ll provide a bit of cushion if she were to topple over, and that’d be one less thing we’d have to worry about.
Artificial grass can be a bit on the pricey side, but considering how small most apartment balconies are, the cost to cover one shouldn’t be that bad.
Install Bird Nets Along the Rails
Our current balcony just has a solid wall that stands pretty high. However, in our previous homes they all had railing instead. This can cause a bit of a problem if your play area will include a bunch of small toys.
Kids like to throw things and it’s only natural for them to chuck their toys every once in a while—and by that I mean every 5 minutes!
By installing netting along the balcony rails, there’s less of a chance that the toys will end up falling down below when your kids throw them. It’s a pretty nifty way to help keep them in place.
Of course it’s still possible for the toys to be thrown way over the top of the rails, but we can’t win every battle!
Fun Ideas to Include in Your Play Area
Once your balcony is all cleaned and set up, it’s time to started thinking about what fun toys and activities you want to have on it. Some of the suggestions I have below are DIY that you can create with a few items, and others are stuff you probably already have in your home.
Set up a Tent
It’s camping time! Who doesn’t like to camp? I sure as heck do! I loved building tents and fortresses inside my home when I was younger and pretending to camp out in them. It’s something I’ve been looking forward to experiencing again with my daughter.
A small tent or teepee is perfect for make-believe camping fun. You could also throw a few cushions and books inside to make it an exciting reading nook.
What’s also great about having a small tent in the play area is that it can provide shade and give kids a space to escape the sun.
If you’re feeling extra creative, you could add some string lights along your balcony rails to turn on in the evening so they look like a starry night!
Those are sure to be fun times that you and your kid will treasure.
Set up a Hammock
Wouldn’t you just love to lounge outside on a hammock during a cool breezy day? Most adult size hammocks are too big for small apartment balconies, but a kid’s one will more than likely still fit.
Your little one will probably find it more thrilling than relaxing to lie down and sway back and forth, but that’s okay. Hammocks are fun!
It’s a good place to read a book, watch a video, or play a game. Having artificial grass underneath will help cushion a fall if your kid were to lose balance while getting in or out.
Build a Sandbox
This one is a fun and easy DIY for a small play area. All you need is a small plastic kid pool that you can buy from almost any department store. It’s better to get one that isn’t inflatable, because those are more likely to tear overtime.
Set the pool out on your balcony and then fill it with sand or gravel. Sand can be a bit messy and may end up all over the place after a while if your kid is on the younger side.
Gravel is usually quite heavy, but there are decorative kinds available that are extremely lightweight.
Once you fill the pool up with whichever one you decide to choose, it’s time to throw in some toys.
Buckets, shovels, dump trucks—just about anything will work!
Make Hopscotch From Foam Tiles
Foam tiles are very versatile because you can move them around easily, and you can punch out the letters or numbers.
Although hopscotch can be done on a balcony with just a bit of chalk, foam tiles are more convenient because they can be mixed around quickly to keep the activity fresh.
If you do opt for using chalk, you’ll probably have to wait for it to rain in order to wash it away and clear the balcony again.
Create a Mini Kitchen
A small play kitchen can be set up with little effort. You could go out and buy a minature kitchen for kids, or you could use some stuff you already have in your home!
Any pots or pans you don’t mind parting with for a bit can be placed out on the balcony along with some toy foods to create a mini kitchen. Large plastic utensils such as spoons and spatulas will give your child something to work with.
The only other thing that’s needed is a bit of imagination. You could role play and pretend to be at a restaurant. Create a small menu and take turns pretending to be the cook, waiter, or customer.
Build a Mini-Golf Course
If you’re a cat owner, setting up a play space for your that your cat and children can enjoy together is relatively easy. You can usually find a small plastic golf set at your local dollar store. Where I live they come with 1 golf club, 2 balls, and a hole.
You can use plastic cups and buckets as holes on your golf course. Also, random toys can be placed around the balcony to make the game more challenging.
This is definitely a game where having netting around the balcony will be beneficial. Golf balls are small enough to fit through most balcony railing and could end up missing after only one hit!
Create a Race Car Track
If your kid loves race cars, why not build a track? It can be as simple as drawing lanes on the balcony with some chalk. Or, a raceway could be built by using LEGOs or other toys that are able to connect.
There are many games and activities that you can include in your child’s play area. A balcony’s limited space will force you to be a bit more creative, but there’s almost always some way you can adjust a game to make it work.
This is the perfect chance to put your DIY skills to use, and your kid will enjoy it even if it isn’t perfect! Just have fun!