How to make an Awesome tree house with a water wall on a budget.
In the weeks leading up to Dimples 3rd Birthday party we put together a tree house. I have wanted to do this for a long time but having a bunch of little kiddies over to Celebrate his Birthday was the perfect excuse to get cracking. Since then we have made a water wall off the side of it!
For an awesome tree house; All you need is a suitable tree, tools, screws/nails etc, possibly a handy husband (but not necessary), some persuasive people skills & some add on's, like the telescope, steering wheel, sandpit.
We started with the frame of an unused dog kennel. We took half the roof off and clean it all out then off the side of this we attached a sturdy wood sheet across to the tree. Just a scrap that was left from one of Adventure Dads building projects. Making sure all the materials were weather hardy we used scrap pieces of wood to build a ladder out of the cubby up onto the tree platform.
We put the sand pit underneath, filled with left over treasure from Dimples 3rd Birthday Pirate Party, reused the "walk the plank" game off the side; it is simply a plank of wood tied up to a crate either side. Then from the local hardware shop, in the kids cubby house section we found a telescope and a steering wheel for the cubby. Next to tackle the tree house.
Using some wooden Palettes, also free from a local builder & a local flooring shop, we put several up over suitable sturdy branches as platforms to climb from the trunk of the tree out on to .
Making sure they were reasonable level with either rope, ladders or safe branches to access as handles they work as "look outs"on what Dimples pretends is his Pirate Ship.
From the local fish co-op, we collected a bunch of rope and fish netting that they were no longer using as it had hole patches in it. They were kind enough to let us help our selves to a mass of thick rope and a huge net that hadn't been used in a long time. It was completely dried out and perfect.
this was strung on the other side of the tree across to various sturdy tree branches and the large thick rope was used, repeatedly to surround the entire tree house, cubby house & large play hammock for added support but also for safety, so that Dimples could use them to hold on to for balance or to pull him self up.
I have to admit, I have been in this before with Dimples more than once. well quite a lot actually.
It is the most beautiful place to relax, its like a HUGE HAMMOCK in a tree canopy.
I often take a bunch of books and lay down in it with him reading but then we just end up laying there staring up at the tree branches above, watching birds and butterflies and listening to all the sounds from the trees. Yesterday we watched a spider high up in the tree, spinning its web- It was pretty cool to see as the sun slightly sparkled through gaps between leaves reflecting off the shiny web!
Most of the materials we got for free as scraps or relatively cheap. The thick rope acts kind of like a support, it keeps all the branches strong to the centre trunk and is a railing around the entire tree house.
Add a Pirate Flag here, there and you have yourself a cool tree house. Of course everything is screwed or tied down. We refrained from nailing anything actually in to the tree, it might come down one day and we wouldn't want to harm the tree or possibly kill off certain branches that are needed for support so we mainly relied on placement and the rope but everything has been Mummy tested & past with flying colours.
I recently read an article on one of the 'kiddy blogs' on risk taking and I thought it was very relevant to our tree house. I cant find the link for it but it was very interesting! It discussed risk taking, as a toddler/preschool and the benefits of it. I wish i could find it for you, you may have read it?
The tree house is a perfect example. This encourages safe risk taking, children get to test their ability and know their boundaries. Through this they learn what they are capable of and when they should stop, if they feel they really cant do something they wont attempt it. As long as they know your there to pick them up or help them out if they go past their limits all will be well!
Another thing of interest that was in the article was in regards to the "be careful" "oh watch out "or "don't do that" phases that we all say. Come on! You have said one of these before....?
I know I do and I didn't even realise what I was doing, being over protective with lots of warning statements like this conveys the message that we don't trust that the child can do whatever they were about to do. Or that we think they aren't capable, we are putting doubt into their ability & controlling their freedom. This can make them hesitant and hinders their confidence, so I try to bite my tongue now & let Dimples test himself.
I'm in no way saying throw a 3 year old on a wooden crate high up in a tree & let them swing around on their own all day, but good old outdoor play in nature has so many benefits that are often overlooked, or they are avoided because of safety fears.
Climbing trees, being free in the outdoors and playing in tree houses connects a child to nature and it is quite spiritual and relaxing, not to mention the benefits of it...
Climbing, swinging like a monkey, pulling up on to a branch or balancing on a plank of wood, Playing in a tree house - Everything tree climbing, aids in:
Upper body strength,
Being outdoors & being active
Testing their own limits
Learning what they are capable of doing
& helping them to rely on their own instincts.
This was easy, again using bits and pieces that were scavenged up from around the house, shed and yard and screwed onto a scrap plank of wood.
At the top we screwed on some half bottles that had hoses or pipes attached to the bottom, kind of like a home made funnel. In different directions they lead down to various containers from bath toys that have holes through them, like a shower head. Down into funnels that are screwed on, a PVC pipe that is cut long ways into 2 gutter like rails, down into more bath toys like the lobster one below that has a spinning pot, pouring the water into the bowl as it fills.
Down in to a little watering can and through more laundry hose. We have many different openings at the top & Dimples has his own little watering can but they all run into one of the 2 bottom bowls that can be tilted to empty back into the watercan.
Dimples has had lots of fun on this and is always so intrigued of which way the water rolls, He tests it out; can he block it off, slow it down or divert it.
While in the making of a water wall you really need to test where the water goes at its limits-
Quite amusing to Dimples & Adventures Dad (who was delivering more screws to us on his lunch break) the first one I drilled on was way off, I was feeling really handy & clever with a tech drill until the water flew down the pipe and missed the next rail by a good 20cm & landed spat on to the grass. They both had a giggle as my hand went to my forehead "FAIL". Thank god I tested it before I completed the whole wall, that would have been a process to fix so do test your water flow first or you may have a day long project instead of an hour long easy task :P