15 Ways to Use Tyres in Outdoor Play

Tyres are a fantastically versatile and upcycled resource that can be used in a variety of different ways. Naturally weatherproof and tough, they are a great option to use outdoors with your little ones. In this blog, we provide 15 ways to incorporate them into your outdoor learning and play. From the simple to the slightly more obscure – there is guaranteed to be an activity for you to try out. Make sure to check our safety tips to ensure your little one’s are always safe when playing with tyres.

1. Mud Kitchen

Mud kitchens do not need to cost the earth! Help your little ones to explore a whole new world of muddy, messy play using upcycled tyres and accessories. Easily picked up and moved around, children will be free to set up their mud kitchens wherever they like. Similarly, the tyre mud kitchen can be amended with more tyres, tailoring the set up to the number of children.

2. Tyre planters

Tyres are a fantastic, low-cost option for creating a classroom garden. They offer versatility for your space as you can add more or less to create the perfect garden zone. Simply line your tyres with fabric, add the soil and add your plants! Why not encourage your little ones to paint the outside of the tyres to add extra personalisation? To further customise your space, why not drill holes in your tyres and suspend them to create hanging planters!

3. Water play

Children can use tyres in a variety of different ways to facilitate water play. Why not add a bowl into the cavity and create a sink? Or, try stacking your tyres high and add bowls, pipes and guttering to create a waterways channel? Children can explore concepts such as gravity as they add boats and other items to their waterways.

4. Obstacle courses

Tyres can be used in a whole host of ways in an obstacle course. If you have spare large tyres, these could be stacked together to create a tunnel to crawl through. Or why not lay them flat on the ground for children to hop in and out of?

Another option is to introduce planks and toppers to create raised balance beams and stepping stones – a great way to test your little one’s core strength and balance. Children can use the tyres to create their own obstacle course of dreams, improve their physical development and test themselves with new challenges.

5. Seating

A practical and perhaps less obvious way to use your tyres is for outdoor seating! Simply pop a cushion into the tyre cavity and voila! You have a comfy little seat that children can use to set up a little reading corner or several comfy seats for outdoor learning and circle time. The added bonus to using tyres and cushions is that packing away is quick and easy and the little ones can help as the tyres are small and light!

6. Build a bug hotel

Bug or minibeast hotels are a great way to spark children’s interest in being outdoors and exploring wildlife and nature however they can be costly! Creating your own minibeast hotel from upcycled and recycled materials is a low cost and sustainable solution that simultaneously teaches children more about animal habitats as they get hands on.

There is no right or wrong way to create your hotel – minibeast love dark small spaces so fill your tyres with straw, pieces of bark and leaves, paper, pine cones and anything else your little ones can find!

7. Sand play

Yet another use for tyres that may not be the first idea to spring to mind is for sand play! Using larger tyres you can easily create a dedicated sandpit for your garden. Simply line your tyre with tarpaulin or woven material and fill it with sand! A car tyre makes the perfect individual sandpit or why not upcycle an old tractor tyre and create a giant sandpit for the children in your setting. The novelty will be much appreciated by the little ones!

8. Small world play

Tyres can provide the perfect basis for all of your small world activities. Offering versatility in your setups, tyres can be used individually or combined to create a larger base for multiple children to play. Why not add soil into the cavity of the tyre, add small world farm animals and plant some carrots to create a farm set-up? Or fill your tyres with sand, add some water and create a miniature construction scene complete with diggers and workmen – easy to assemble and quick to pack away, what will your little ones create?

9. Role Play

Using tyres and combining them with other outdoor loose parts can offer children a wealth of role play opportunities – why not try adding crates, planks or even a simple cardboard box. Will it be a car, a train, a bus, a fire engine or even a motorbike and sidecar! Children can create their perfect vehicle using their imaginations and develop their gross motor skills as they assemble the parts.

10. Target practice

Encourage gross motor development, muscle development and hand-eye coordination skills by asking your children to throw bean bags, pebbles or balls into the cavity of the tyres. For an extra challenge why not incorporate a maths element and ask children to throw 3 into one tyre and 5 into another to practice counting. Improve physical development further by adding obstacles or moving the tyres further away or stacking them up to increase the difficulty.

11. Mark Making

Think outside the box when it comes to an old tyre collection and try mark making! Why not lay out some sheets of paper, newspaper or even a tuff tray paper pad in a tuff tray, dip your upcycled tyres in washable paint and get rolling with your little ones. Our small tyres will provide a smooth surface to paint patterns on and the larger tyres will automatically print patterns due to their tread. Get mark making and see how much your little ones will love this giant and crazy painting activity.

12. Outdoor Storage

Outdoor storage can often be costly and doesn’t provide versatility for the different sized spaces and settings. Using loose parts like tyres means that storage can be built accordingly, moved around to wherever necessary and stacked away when no longer needed. They also have the added benefit of being weatherproof and sturdy. Why not stack your tyres and create a home for your bats and rackets, or keep them low to the ground to house your smaller loose parts like balls and toys. Or finally why not stack two columns and add planks between the tyres to create makeshift shelves?

13. Build a swing

Build your little ones the ultimate outdoor swing by drilling holes in a large tyre and adding rope or chain and supporting it to a tree or beam. For more in-depth instructions about making your child-safe swing then visit eHow.

Your children will love the novelty of playing on such an unusual piece of playground equipment and can even play on it with their friends as the tyre can provide enough space for 2 children.

14. Create dedicated zones

Tyres can be used to effectively section off areas of your outdoor space to create dedicated zones for learning or play. They could also be used to supplement learning zones, for example when added into a corner of your outdoor space with cushions and some books you have your very own reading corner! Alternatively, you could use the tyres to supplement your zone! For example, why not add pots and pans into the tyres and create a drum kit for a music zone!

15. Hopscotch

Our 15th and final activity suggestion is using tyres to create a hopscotch and elevate the classic outdoor game. Children will need to focus more on their their hand-eye coordination to ensure their feet land correctly in the gaps. Additionally, you little ones will need to exert more energy into their jumps thus building up their stamina, fitness and gross motor skills.

Safety tips on playing with upcycled tyres.

  1. When first using tyres, wear a pair of safety gloves to check the surfaces, ensuring there are no sharp hazards
  2. Give your tyres a quick wash with a hose to remove any dirt or grime
  3. Try and avoid tyre play on very hot days. The black rubber surfaces can become very hot to the touch – try painting your tyres to limit this issue

We would love to see the creative ways in which you use your tyres. Tag us in your pictures and use the hashtag #explorewithEYR
Check out our outdoor loose parts collection and discover how to take outdoor learning and play to a whole new level!

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