Well, it is that time of year again…school is winding down and the kiddies will be home for two months! With fuel costs rising daily, many folks are choosing to stay a little closer to home this summer or shorten any travel trips they are planning.
Kids need playtime, their own time! Creating a backyard space that allows your kids to discover and create their own entertainment helps them develop skills which they will take into their adulthood. Creating an active play space in your backyard doesn’t have to cost 1000’s of dollars or be a labour intensive endeavour.
Here are a few Kid Friendly Backyard Ideas:
Before you begin to construct anything, consider your own backyard, think about what you already have, what can I use, what might need a little TLC or update? What would you like to add?
The idea is to create Backyard “Rooms”. Give kids a feeling of privacy, their own secret fort. Your yard may already have little nooks, corners, or trees (think a weeping willow).
If it is missing something, you can add shrubs or trees, a trellis, an umbrella or canopy, or some sort of cover. .
Some other ideas for creating the hideaway:
- Or a fabric teepee
- A frame playhouse
- A DIY Playhouse
- An Old tent
- An Umbrella or a shade canopy
A place to dig in the sand (or dirt), create it, build with it, and touch it is an important element of a kid friendly backyard. Sand is both a wonderful sensory experience and fun to manipulate.
A sand box is most often a favourite place for kids. You can buy or build your own sandbox, sand pit, or sand table and outfit it with a few basic sand toys, such as:
- Scoops and shovels
- Molds (we also love these cupcake molds!)
- Construction vehicles
- Funnels or this funnel tower!
On a hot summer day, cool water is all that is needed! Do you remember running through the sprinkler? Consider water balloons, kiddie pools, or a water garden.
Here are a few more ways to incorporate a water element in your space.
- A water table (for the littles)
- Slip n slide
- A stream or pond (I wish!)
Outdoor Art Activities
Do you find yourself a little hesitant to bring out the paint inside, worried there may be a spill on the carpet? What better time than summer to allow your kids to channel their own Picasso creativity, so bring out the paint in the backyard!
An easel, large drawing paper, paint and brushes is all that is needed. You can also use Chalk! Sidewalk chalk allows them to be creative on the driveway (under supervision) and or in the backyard on paper as well. Share some throwback memories and teach the kids how to play hopscotch! Besides the driveway, encourage your kids to try other “canvases” rocks, fences, wood, sidewalks and even the side of your house. Chalk and Chalk paint, will wash away!
A Kids’ Garden
Any garden that a child plants, maintains and grows is an amazing experience that provides lifelong skills. Peeking every day to see if the seeds or flowers are growing is a memorable fun time. They also learn responsibility through the necessity of watering, weeding and maintaining the garden. It doesn’t have to be a huge space, it can be a simple container garden or a small space in the backyard or along the side of your house.
There is still time to give this a try with your kids. Crops to consider, carrots, radishes, cherry tomatoes, and beans.
Child friendly gardening tools:
- Trowel and hand tools
- Child-sized watering can
- Gardening gloves
- A small shovel and other gardening tools
Attract Birds and Butterflies
Watching a variety of birds, butterflies and bees is a relaxing and fun experience. Attracting them to your backyard space isn’t as hard as you might think. Bird Feeders come in a variety of sizes, shapes and colours nowadays. There are big, small, and window pane styles. You Can add a birdbath or birdhouse. A natural wood birdhouse painted by your child adds a personal touch to your space. Don’t be afraid of the bees, let them do their thing and pollinate, explain to your kids the vital role they play in the natural ecosystem.
Nature Observation Kit
Observe and release, create a natural science lab. Have a few key observation tools available.
Butterfly nets can be used for catching insects. Creative ways for your child to get up close with nature:
- A jar with holes in the lid or a bug house can be a temporary insect observation room.
- A magnifying glass or loupe is helpful for looking closely at your subject.
- A set of binoculars allows kids to watch larger bird and animal life more carefully.
- Don’t limit the fun to daytime, catch fireflies at night!
Nothing more to say here, Bubbles, Bubbles, Bubbles. They are fun, and magical for everyone!
There are wands and machines that are big and small, try them all. You can make a bubble solution easily enough in a shallow pie plate.
If the above ideas still have you wondering how to encourage the kids to create their own fun here are a few additions you can add to the backyard.
Balls, hula hoops, frisbees, jump ropes and walkie talkies.
If space allows can you add a swing set, or the classic tire swing if you have a large tree with a strong branch! Swings are a great way to simply be and offer a sense of calm and teach kids balance.
So if higher gas prices are curtailing your summer plans, get the kids involved and turn your backyard into their own personal playground! Get started now and your backyard will be an oasis of fun for the kids and all their friends when the school bell rings for the last time in a few weeks.