05/23/2010 05:12 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Upgrade Your Neighborhood Playground: 5 Great Done-in-a-Day Projects for National Volunteer Week

April 18 marks the beginning of National Volunteer Week--a great incentive to beautify your neighborhood playground, add more play elements and encourage community building. Here are five of my favorite "playground upgrade projects," along with links to step-by-step instructions.

With the proper preparations, these are all designed to be done in two to six hours. Set aside a day, invite your neighbors and choose a few projects to help ensure that everyone--from preschoolers to grandparents--can get involved.

2010-03-23-chessboard_tabletops.jpgChessboard tabletop
Add a twist to your existing picnic tables. As people of all ages enjoy playing chess and checkers, these tabletops can help motivate teens, adults, and seniors to frequent your playspace.
> Learn how to paint a chessboard tabletop

A chalkboard gives children a space to be artists! Children can collaborate to make murals, play games like tic-tac-toe and keep score for field and asphalt games.
> Learn how to build a chalkboard

2010-03-23-1_x_1_murals.jpg 1' x 1' murals
Give each child a square piece of plywood to paint to beautify the play area. Finished squares can be fastened to a chain-link fence or drilled into wooden walls or fence posts. Consider providing focus with a common theme, like fruits and vegetables or sea creatures.
> Learn how to create 1' x 1' murals

2010-03-23-map_painting.jpg Painted map
A KaBOOM! favorite, a painted map brings color to any playspace. Children will learn about geography as they create the map and play on it for years to come.
> Learn how to paint a map

2010-03-23-planter_bench.jpg Planter bench
A configuration of benches creates a designated area for neighbors to gather together. With this combination bench/planter, you not only beautify your playspace, but also encourage a stronger sense of community.
> Learn how to build a planter bench

Don't have a neighborhood playground? Let's fix that! Use the KaBOOM! Playground Project Planner to learn how to build one from scratch.