This Upgrade Your Space article is focusing on items that bring the outdoors in or the indoors out: Outlast blocks and a Mud Kitchen. Their extra versatility really reduces your Cost per Use and increases the value of your upgrade.
Keep your space fresh and returning children engaged.
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Check out these other posts in our popular series on how to keep your space fresh and returning children engaged
If I say toy or educational fad, can you picture something?
I’m not going to name names but you know what I mean -- the equivalent of the pasta maker in the back of a pantry or those pair of pumps bought for a wedding, now buried in your closet.
Whether you spend a lot of money or a little money on a resource, if it lacks versatility to inspire repeated use, the return on your investment is low. Applying a Cost Per Use (CPU) formula is a way to capture the true value of an item.
Cost Per Use (CPU) = Total cost of the item / How often it’s used.
Now are you really going to sit with a clipboard and check off how often your kids are using each item and run all of that info through a spreadsheet?
Probably not. But it is helpful when you are considering making an upgrade to your space that might be pricy, to think in terms of how versatile a particular item will be and therefore how much use it will get. You might find that the long term return easily justifies that initial investment. We think mud kitchen and Outlast Outdoor Blocks.
Canadian weather being what it is, you want to take full advantage of every day possible you can spend outside. A solid mud kitchen means you can take resources you use inside, outdoors – pots, pans, ladles and other kitchen paraphernalia. (We go into detail about the benefits of mud play in this blog post.) Plus, in the wintertime, your mud kitchen can turn into a snow kitchen.
The mud kitchen is an ideal outdoor STEM station too. Use as an outdoor base for specimens collected “in the field” with magnify glass tweezers, jars, etc. on hand, or preserved specimens to compare findings to.
A recent visit to Centennial College's Progress Campus Child Care in Toronto reminded us just how versatile Outlast outdoor blocks and ramps from Community Playthings are. Outlast are the only children’s wooden blocks that are specifically designed to last outdoors. Using a natural preservation process, they can be left out in the sun, or in the snow. Any naturally occurring mildew is easily scrubbed off with soap and water.
Unlike pressure treated wood, Outlast has no toxins or toxic bi-products. But they’re chunky and solid enough that kids can essentially build their own outdoor play structures.
Or… as it turns out indoor play structures too. At the childcare centre at Toronto Centennial College, the team found that they loved using Outlast in their toddler room. The wide ramps and versatile blocks created solid structures that toddlers loved to roll things down, even if they couldn’t build the structure themselves, independently.
So although Outlast are designed to handle years of exposure to snow, ice, glaring sun, pouring rain etc. maybe you want to bring them inside every once in a while, too, to be used by some of your youngest charges. A great way to bring down your CPU and maximize the value of your investment.