Backyard Fun for Kids

Posted on April 28, 2015 at 6:00 am

By Rachel Edmondson

Spring is the time of year when parents everywhere rejoice that it’s finally warm enough to send their kids outside to play. My kids are always happiest when they’ve had a chance to run around outside, dig in the dirt, and soak up some sun. When my kids are stuck inside all day they start to get bored and want me to be another playmate.

While I enjoy playing with my kids, I admit that it can sometimes be pretty exhausting. I’m always relieved when I can send them outdoors to entertain themselves for a while. There is just something about being outside in nature. My kids are content and much more likely to come up with their own fun without my help. However, sometimes it’s fun to pull out something extra special and enjoy activities you wouldn’t want to do inside your house. I spent some time searching online and have collected some of my favorite ideas for backyard fun this spring and summer.

Backyard Fun for Kids by Rachel Edmondson | Spokane County Library District

Water Play

Kids love water. I’m always amazed at how long a simple kiddie pool can keep my kids happy. But if you want to take water play to the next level, there are tons of fun water ideas out there. I found this wonderful site called Happy Hooligans that has a whole list of toddler and preschool friendly water ideas.

Some of my favorites from the list include:

  • Freezing small plastic toys into a large hunk of ice and then letting your kids use tools to excavate the toys or use salt water to make the ice melt.
  • Creating a color laboratory where kids can combine colors and create pretend potions.
  • Letting your kids “do the laundry” with their own clothesline and clothespins.
  • Making a do-it-yourself water table.

I also love the idea of making these easy sponge balls. Unlike water balloons, these won’t leave a mess and they can be used over and over again.

Messy Play

What kid doesn’t love getting messy? Making mud pies and digging in the dirt are classic kid activities. One site I found even suggested making your own mobile mud patch with a wheelbarrow. Some more classic kid activities include playing in the sand and making a bubble station. If you put all these ideas together you can have a messy play date. Simply set up several messy stations for kids to play at while the adults have a chance to talk and hang out.

Another messy idea is to make gooey, slimy stuff. If you haven’t made Oobleck with your kids, you’re in for a treat. Kids love this stuff, and most adults find it fairly fascinating as well. This site takes Oobleck up a notch by adding color mixing to the fun. If you’ve already made Oobleck and want to try something new, one of my favorite sites for gooey, slimy ideas is Growing a Jeweled Rose. The author of this site has put together a great list of her favorite play recipes. I love trying out new ones when I’m in the mood to make a mess with my kids. If your kids just can’t get enough of messy play, you’ll also want to check out this site’s list of messy play ideas.

Outdoor Games

Outdoor games are a great way to get your kids moving and keep them entertained at the same time. I sorted through many suggestions and narrowed my list down to those that didn’t take too much time or money to put together. Here are a few of my favorites:

In my search for easy games, I discovered that pool noodles don’t have to be just for the pool. In fact, you can create all sorts of fun games with them.

  • Blow up some balloons and have your kids try to get as many as they can into a laundry basket using only their pool noodle.
  • Cut old pool noodles in half and make a large croquet course. Instead of mallets and hard balls, kids can use a kickball.
  • Make a giant ring toss game.
Backyard Playground

Creating a backyard playground takes a little more time and effort to set up, but most creations can be left up for a long time and repeatedly enjoyed. One of my favorite ideas involves creating a special “kid place” in your yard. This first one takes the most time and effort, but I think the effect is magical. By using beans and poles you can create a beautiful bean teepee. Your kids will love watching it grow, picking the beans, and enjoying a secret, shady place to read a book or play pretend. If you don’t want to wait for beans to grow or don’t have a good place for a bean teepee, you could also try making these Hula Hoop and sheet hideouts.

Another idea for a backyard playground is to create a pulley system. It’s amazing how much fun kids can have with a bucket and rope. This would also be an excellent addition to any tree house. Another simple idea is to create your own backyard tight rope. For the budding gymnast, their own balance beam can provide hours of fun. This can be as easy as a board set down on the grass, or as fancy as this balance beam that was made for indoors but could easily be carried outdoors on a nice sunny day. I love these ideas because they challenge kids to work on their gross motor skills while keeping them entertained.

After being inside for several months, I’m ready for the dirty feet, wet clothes and big smiles after a hard day of play in the yard. I’m excited to try some of these new ideas this spring and summer and to take our backyard playtime to the next level. Best of all, I can simply turn on the hose and wash the mess away at the end of the day!


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