So here we are. Wemonsday, Day one billion and twenty one, month of Marprune, of quarantine from the novel coronavirus. Let’s face it, for the foreseeable future the furthest we’ll be venturing for a “vacation” any time soon is our own backyards. And so, here are some ideas to help you make your backyard more fun.
1. Backyard Camping
This is a classic. Spring is the perfect time to pull out the camping gear you have stored away and set up camp in the backyard. We have a lot of time on our hands, so you could even create a whole “campsite” in your yard. Move a table near the tent, string up some lights, and add a simple fire pit. These are the lights we used in our backyard. We have a serious issue with squirrels chewing through everything, and these lights have a plastic casing to protect them from pesky critters.
2. Build a backyard obstacle course
Using natural, found, and play materials you can create an obstacle course in your backyard that will help your kids get out some energy in the backyard, rather than slide-landing with their heads one inch from every table corner in your house.
3. Create a huge outdoor chalkboard
Sure, you can draw on the sidewalk, but drawing on a jumbo size chalkboard in an unexpected place in your yard is even more fun. Staying inspired and entertained right now is about looking at things in a different way, and this project gives you something to make with your kids and then play with after. This chalkboard paint works well and will hold up outside.
4. Create a music wall
Your neighbors might no love this one, but your kids definitely will. We had one of these in our backyard a few houses ago, and my then 4 year old loved it. Bonus: you can create a music wall in your backyard with things you most likely already have lying around your house. Some of the best items to use when creating a music wall are pots, pans, spoons, grates, cooling racks, trays, dashboards, cans and bottles.
5. Create an art station in your backyard
Taking are outside encouraged kids to incorporate natural materials in their artwork and for those who don’t love a mess inside it solves that problem, too. Here are some ideas of what you can add to an outside art station.
- pieces of wood, cardboard, and heavier stock paper
- paintbrushes of all different sizes
- markers and crayons
- bowls to hold water
- containers with lids to hold collected nature bits and pieces
- rocks to hold down artwork
If you are looking for some awesome action art activities, this book Action Art, is ah-ma-zing, and we use it constantly, inside and outside of the house.
6. Build a boat run
This is an activity in the building part as well as in the playing part. You can even build boats to race as well. There are a few different ways to do this. Here are some popular options (we used the foil method)
- This foil method from Frugal Fun 4 Boys
- This Pool noodle method: For this, you can just half a few pool noodles, secure them from underneath, and then add the hose and let the water run down. Add some boats, toy fish or sea animals, rocks, sticks, whatever you like.
- These ideas for building homemade boats out of pool noodles from Today’s parent
7. Make a mud pit and digging area
ok, this might be some parents least favorite idea, so feel free to pick something else if the thought of a muddy spot in your yard or the resulting dirty kids that result makes you shiver. For those who welcome a fun mess, this is a very budget-friendly way to add hours of self-directed and imaginative play and learning to your backyard.
Most people I know who have a backyard also have an area that seems to always have dead grass or no grass at all because it just won’t grow (half of my yard. fun.) If this is your yard, pull out the shovels, sticks, digger trucks, and kitchen utensils you don’t use anymore and let the muddy fun begin. Other fun additions include pvc pipe that you can bury and use for small car and truck tunnels, and different size plant saucers can be pressed into the dirt, filled with some water, and used as ponds or lakes. (remember those homemade boats, those are fun in her, too)
Mess Tip: Quell the mess from coming inside by placing towels and a fresh set of clothes right by the door.
8. Make a mini garden or fairy garden
You can create a miniature garden, sometimes called a fairy garden, anywhere. An area at the base of a tree is very fun for this, but you can also do it in a container if you want it to be mobile or more contained. Some things you can add to a backyard fun fairy garden are:
- miniature animals. My kids always loved these toobs from Safari limited. They come in a ton of different themes, from dragons and dinosaurs to zoo classics.
- miniature people. Again we always use safari limited toobs for these. You can also use figures your kids already have, or build some wooden people (another project in itself!)
- miniature furniture. You can find these at hobby stores and shops that sell trains and dollhouse accessories. Online you can find some fun pieces here.
- miniature nature elements. Again, safari limited makes an appearance or craft shops.
- Natural elements. Collect acorns, sticks, rocks, leaves, seedpods, flowers-anything that you and your kids find in nature can make a great addition to a mini garden set up.
- Fabrics. Little scraps of feels or fabrics can be used as tiny bed covers, tents, or canopies. You can even build a little tent with some fabric and sticks.
10. Create an outdoor movie theater
This is not as complicated as it sounds, I promise. There are a few different versions that you can go with to make this and it really is super fun for kids and adults. We actually use it to watch grown-up movies outside when the kids are in bed.
How to create an outdoor movie theater
1. Create a screen- For our version, we painted the outer wall of the fort in our backyard and used this as our screen. If you don’t have a flat surface to project onto you can buy an outdoor screen like this one that comes on a stand which lets you put it pretty much anywhere, or use a sheet or piece of heavier canvas.
2. Buy a Projector- The next thing you need is a projector. We weren’t sure this would work (thankfully it did and we love it.) so I started off getting a small projector. This is the one I have. I would highly recommend getting the HDMI adapter cable to hook it directly to your iPhone so that you can stream from Netflix, Hulu, prime video apps.
You can project movies from your laptop as well with just the USB, but in my case, this was lugging my laptop outside and plugging too many things in. I have -5 patience for electronics and tech, so I need to keep it simple if I want to actually do it more than once. (we actually use this projector inside a lot, too. It’s great to project a kids’ movie on the ceiling of their room for a twist. We also used it to project images on the wall and drew some great murals with it. It’s really been one of the best backyard fun purchases we’ve made.
3. Make it cozy– This step you can pay jazz with. Gather your outdoor furniture, add some pillows, blankets, and even an outdoor rug if you have one. Don’ forget to pull in a few tables or even tree stumps to rest your drinks and snacks on. We have some twinkle lights about where we sit, but only two strands and they are back from the screen, closer to the chairs so that it doesn’t lighten the screen projection.
Tip for showtime: I really needs to be completely dark to project correctly. If you are doing his in the Spring or Summer hat might not be until 8 or 9 PM if you are in the northern hemisphere. So if you have younger kids encourage a nap earlier in the day if you can with the promise that they can stay up later for the movie. Worst case they will fall asleep during the movie, so i’s no a huge deal, just a thought 🙂
With the weather warming up in most parts of the country, right now is he perfect time to make your backyard more fun. Adding just one of these ideas will make a difference, but mix and match a few and your backyard will be entertaining for quite a while for he kids and your whole family.
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