Feature Image Credit: Phil Goodwin on Unsplash
It’s not easy to keep the kids busy over the long summer holiday. If the cries of “I’m bored” are already sounding like a broken record, then it’s time to break out some semi-structured activities to keep them having fun and you keeping your inner zen. With these outdoors activities, the kids will be having a ball, while you sit back and relax (or handle that big mess they left inside).
A lot of studies have shown that kids who spend time outside reap physical and psychological benefits: happier, more relaxed, and more able to concentrate. But it can be difficult for kids to know where to start; outdoor play has increasingly been replaced with indoor activities like TV, phone games and so on. Breaking away and just experiencing the outdoors isn’t necessarily a simple process, so creating outdoor experiences that they can enjoy – and even ones that you can enjoy with them – can help make all the difference.
It doesn’t have to be expensive, and it doesn’t have to take up much of your time to get the backyard party started. At Outdoor World, we love helping Western Australians make the most of their backyard, so from our families to yours, have a great summer holiday!
Water Balloon Pinata
We love this idea from Ziggity Zoom: a water balloon pinata! Especially in summer, it’s a fun activity – especially when the balloons start spraying water!
All you’ll need is:
- Package of Balloons
- Cotton String
- A small plastic funnel
- Outside hose to fill the balloons
- Plastic bat or a cardboard mailing tube
How to play:
Before you fill the balloons, you’ll need to find a spot to tie them overhead so the kids will need to reach up with their bat, but not so high that it’s hard to reach. You can do this on your awesome-lookin’ Outdoor World patio (yet another great reason to get a patio installed, right?) but you can also use tree limbs or similar outdoor structures.
To get started, you need to fill your water balloons; just attach a balloon to the skinny end of your plastic funnel and slowly fill it with water from the hose, and tie off the end. It’s worth noting that the fuller your balloon is, the quicker it will burst – you can keep things interesting by filling to different extents.
Fill about seven of the balloons up, and set them each aside on a soft surface like patio furniture to stop the balloons from getting punctured before you’re ready. Next up, cut a piece of string to about a metre long, and tie each balloon securely to the string – about 6cm in between. Don’t tie any balloons to the last 30 cm of either end of the string.
Lastly, tie the ends of the string to your selected structure. Make sure they’re tied securely – all that water is going to put weight on the string.
Now, you’re ready for playtime! Kids should line up and take turns swinging the bat; they’ll get one swing per turn. Make sure all the kids remain a safe distance away from whoever’s up to bat, and also make sure to use a plastic bat – safety first! Kids will love getting to be the first to make the balloon burst – it’s very satisfying (and just that little bit competitive, without being too competitive – everyone’s a winner here!)
Outdoor Chalkboard Easel
Creative kiddos will love the chance to make beautiful things outside, and you’ll be happy not to have to clean up chalk dust! You may have seen smallish outdoor chalkboards before, like this one by Crayola, but making one yourself means you can go big or go home (well, you’re already at home, but you get our drift). Courtesy of the folks at Parents.com, this plus-size chalkboard is a great idea to bring out the best in your budding artistes.
Firstly, make your own outdoor chalkboard paint (which will handle the elements better than the store-bought variety) by mixing together 2 tablespoons of unsanded tile grout per cup of exterior latex enamel paint (flat finish) that you use. Stir one cup at a time into a container, making sure it’s blended together well.
Next, apply two coats of paint to a big piece of plywood, and once it’s all done and dried, hang the finished drawing station at a kid-friendly height using heavy-duty picture-hanging hardware. Finally, prep your finished chalkboard by lightly rubbing the long side of a piece of chalk all over the board’s surface, and then erase the chalk. Done and chalk-dusted!
Paper Plate Ring Toss
Photo Credits: KiwiCo
This is a colourful, entertaining game that’s perfect for crafty kids in summer! The best part is, they can be involved with the making stage for this one; primary-aged kids can even do most of the work themselves while you enjoy some grown-up time (maybe BBQ & entertaining friends under your fancy new Outdoor World patio?) Thanks to KiwiCo for this great idea!
All you’ll need is:
Paper plates, a paper tube, basic craft supplies and a bit of creativity!
How to play:
Make your ring toss base by painting a paper tube and the top of a paper plate.
While your ring toss base is drying, start making the tossing rings. The more plates you make, the more fun this will be!
Lastly, once your base plate and the tube are dry, cut 4 to 6 slits that are about 1.5 cm long, on the bottom of the tube. Fold the tabs outward and tape them down onto the base plate. Your ring toss stand is complete!
With that done, it’s time to go back to the other painted plates, to make them into tossing rings as shown. Once they’re dry, cut out the center of the plate. (By the way, if you find the plates are too light for throwing, just tape two plates together, painted sides outwards.)
Now, let the games begin!
Bubble-blowing is always a ton of fun, but why not make it a contest to make it even more awesome – and a little scientific? This great idea comes from FamilyEducation.com.
All you’ll need is:
Just mix up some bubble solution, assemble a bunch of unconventional bubble-blowing tools (drinking straws, funnels, wire loops, etc) and grab a marble or similarly small toy.
How to play:
Every contestant gets a supply of bubble solution and some bubble-blowing tools to play with. Wet your outdoor tabletop with bubble solution, and the kids can start! The contest can get them to test things like:
- Who can blow the biggest bubble?
- Who can create the biggest pile of bubbles in thirty seconds?
- Whose bubble lasts the longest?
- Who can blow a bubble within a bubble?
- Who can get a marble or other small toy inside a bubble?
We’ve all tossed bean bags as kids, but this game is next level, and it’s pretty easy to get ready. Thanks to AARP’s fantastic feature on lawn games for this great idea.
All you’ll need is:
Two pieces of plywood tilted at an angle, and around 8~10 bean bags. Cut a single hole through each piece of plywood near the higher end. You can also grab professionally-made bean bag toss games at many toy stores, which are a bit more robust, involve less getting-things-ready, and can have their angles adjusted for different ages and stages.
How to Play:
Toss the bean bags through the holes. Simple, but challenging and fun! Decide who goes first, then take turns throwing bags with your opponent; you throw, your opponent throws, and so on. Your feet aren’t allowed to go past the front edge of the board, or a foul is called and your opponent gets to pelt you with the bean bags.
Also, a tossed bag isn’t allowed to touch the ground; if it hits the ground and bounces up onto the board, you have to remove it before any other bag gets thrown. If it’s hanging off the board and touches the ground, that gets removed too. When all 8 bags have been tossed to the opposing side, add up your score; if you earn the most points in that round, you’ll throw first in the next round.
(BTW, it’s also pretty entertaining to decorate the platforms and make them look cute.)
We hope we’ve given you plenty of ideas on how you and your kids can make the most of your backyard! And if you’re looking to up your backyard game and enjoy summertime fun together in peak comfort, don’t forget to check out the Outdoor World range of patios designed to make backyards better. And keep an eye on our Ideas and Inspiration section for more posts like this – especially our patios category, where we’ve got a growing body of information on how to live your best backyard life!