If you’re staying close to home this summer, why not brighten up the garden with some of these ideas that will keep your kids playing (and staying) outside for hours. You don’t have a garden? We have concocted games and activities for you to do on the sidewalk or even on a balcony.
Make your own clay kitchen
Salvage old kitchen items, scavenge wooden pallets, and scavenge for trinkets to create your own mud kitchen in your backyard. Add a bowl of water, sand or dirt, and your little chefs will be creating delicious treats in no time. This creative activity is a sensory pleasure for the little ones. You can find plans online or use your imagination to build something unique.
Backyard Scavenger Hunt
No need to travel far to make interesting discoveries about insects, flowers and birds. Use this printable sheet of messylittlemonster.com/2020/04/printable-outdoor-scavenger-hunt or create your own, then go find the items on the maps and learn more about them and your own outdoor space. You will be amazed at what you find!
Water gun painting
Instead of aiming at each other, set up paper or even blank sheets and have kids create unique works of art using their water guns. Fill with liquid watercolors and drop them to see the color combinations and patterns they offer.
Itinerary available here: firefliesandmudpies.com/squirt-gun-painting.
Baby play area
Who says you have to fill the kiddie pool with water? Add toys and sensory items to a dry pool to create a whole new play space for toddlers and babies.
Do-it-yourself water drops
Put the kids to work helping you create these awesome outdoor waterdrops, then you can all lay back and enjoy. You can create individual ones or a huge drop for everyone to kick back, roll over, and get through the summer days.
Instructions here: hellowonderful.co/post/how-to-make-mini-water-blobs
If you don’t feel like making one yourself, try searching Amazon for “AquaPod.”
Start a garden
Herbs are easy to grow, and using a wooden pallet for the base can create a kid-friendly gardening space. Hang or lean the pallet – which can usually be found for free at garden centers and big box hardware stores. Staple a garden cloth to make a bin, fill it with soil and your young gardener can decorate the wood and add some homemade plant markers.
Gardening is an activity that can continue all summer long. Balcony gardening is also a great activity for children. Find inexpensive containers at the dollar store or clean up recyclables. Then decorate and grow cherry tomatoes, lettuce, and other small-scale plants.
Play while learning movement and cause and effect. Use washed bottles, cups, pool noodles and containers tied to a board or fence to create a DIY water wall. Youngsters can pour, drip and splash throughout a fun afternoon.
See an example at learningandexploringthroughplay.com/2014/08/water-wall
Grab the chalk and set the kids up on the sidewalk to make an active obstacle course the whole neighborhood can enjoy. In addition to hopscotch, they can draw circles to jump, zigzags to run, spirals to spin, squares to jump, and even decorate their art with inspirational messages for all who pass by.
For a smoother chalk that is easier to work with, mix pieces of chalk in an (old) mixer until powdered, add water when ready to use and use a brush.
When teens complain of being bored, put them to work sanding 2 x 4s (you can get them cut to size at most construction stores) and they can have their own giant Jenga game to play with. outdoors with friends. Google how to create other outdoor games like ring toss and cornhole to keep them entertained all summer long.
Find directions to Jenga at familyhandyman.com/project/how-to-giant-backyard-jenga-game
Take Hot Wheels and Matchbox cars outside and build your own track with flags and a finish line. Using halved pool noodles, tape or toothpicks and paper, kids will be racing in no time!
Instructions are available on Ramblings From Utopia at bit.ly/3ys1CKP