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little girl handstand backyard

Your backyard is the key to summer fun. Here are 9 ideas on how to keep kids engaged in constructive, healthy, and fun DIY activities this summer.

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The kids are out of school soon, and their extra energy will need an outlet. It’s time to get outside and have a little fun with the family. From toddlers to teens and everyone in between, here are some games the entire group can enjoy. Soon your backyard will be the place to be.

1. Family freeze tag

Remember freeze tag? If you get tagged, you’re frozen in place until someone can touch you and unfreeze you. Family freeze tag works the same way; you become frozen when tagged but instead of waiting for another family member to unfreeze you, you have to shout out something you love about your family.

When you do this, you’re unfrozen but you can’t use something that’s already been said. This can be fun as well as helping you to express what your family means to you, kids and adults alike, all at once!

2. Obstacle course

The obstacle course; it’s a favorite, and to be gauged appropriately depending on the age range. If you have a ladder, hula hoops, exercise balls, and/or pool noodles, you can create a fun, outdoor obstacle course that will challenge your entire family. If you have older kids, time them and see if they can complete the course in under a minute.

3. Water balloon trivia

Make sure that everyone is willing to get wet for this one. Have your kids spread out in front of the person who is “it.” The person who is “it” should have a laundry basket of water balloons. The “it” person should then ask the panel of kids, one by one, a question about the family that has more than one answer.

water baloons

For instance, “Name a place we’ve gone for vacation.” The panel each takes turns answering. If they get it wrong or repeat something someone else said, they get hit with a water balloon. If the balloon doesn’t explode, they can throw it at the person who is “it.”

4. Twister

Take the game outside! Or, if you don’ t have the official version, you can make your own. Use construction paper, colored face clothes, or other materials you’ve got around the house to make up the patterns and colors for your makeshift “board” that you lay out on a grid, just like in the real game. Make your own spinner out of paper, or just use colored tokens randomly picked out of a hat to decide the next color or pattern relative to what you’ve laid down on your “board”. Then, start a-twistin’!

5. Nature scavenger hunt

Your backyard is a great starting point for kids to discover nature, or to learn more about what they’ve already discovered. Create a list of things for your kids to find outdoors. For little ones, give them a picture list. Hand them a pad of paper and something to write with, or an iPad, or digital camera. Then, create a collage of the finding later on, either glued together or by uploading it to a family website, blog, or Tumblr account.

Turn your kids’ love of nature into something that they can interact with. This can be the first steps to becoming aware that the environment isn’t just an idea, it’s their home that’s worth celebrating and protecting when they’re older.

boy and magnifying glass discovering nature

6. Football pass

Sometimes, the games that are the most fun are the ones that are the most simple, too. Have an old tarp? Cut 4-5 geometric holes (smaller ones for older kids and larger ones for little guys) in the tarp. Tape off their edges with colorful duct tape and hang the tarp up for a carnival style football game. Try tossing the ball through the different holes while keeping track of scores.

7. Patio art

Art is always a stimulating and fun way to spend an afternoon. And when you do it outside, it allows some fresh air and sunshine, too. Create a mural using chalk on your patio. Get some colored chalk that will wash away easily when you’re done, and decide on a theme beforehand (or let everything be spontaneous) for a large-scale mural.

Pictures of the family, of nature all around, and even some fantastical creatures are all great ways to create a memorable patio mural even when the rain comes to wash it away.  And don’t forget to contribute yourself!

patio mural with child

8. Musical freeze

Summer is for fresh air, sunshine – and tunes! Crank them up in your backyard using your outdoor sound system, or a portable device, and turn it into a game. Choose your kids’ favorites and get them dancing. Then stop the music at random intervals. The person who freezes last is out. Keep playing the song until there’s a winner.

Then, start all over again with another song! Play a few rounds and then pit the winners in each round in a final round. All the while, legs and arms and whole bodies are moving, and exercise is had by all.

9. Ghost in the graveyard

The “ghost” hides while the remainder of your group counts at the base. After you finish counting, you can fan out to find the ghost. Once someone locates the ghost, they yell, “Ghost in the Graveyard!” and everyone sprints back to base with the ghost trying to tag someone. The person that the ghost tags becomes the ghost for the next game. Ghost in the Graveyard is a great game for summer evenings; you can add glow sticks for safety.

Unplug and enjoy the outdoors this summer

Your backyard is a vital part of your home. And even if you have a smaller backyard not conducive to running around, there’s always public parks where these activities can be played just as easily.

Getting your kids to unplug and enjoy the outdoors is a wonderful way to spend a summer afternoon and to stay active, too. With these great games, don’t be surprised if they want to do it all again tomorrow – after they’ve had a well-earned good night’s sleep of course.

Your ideas?

What outdoor activities for kids in the backyard have you tried? Which ones were the biggest hits?

Tell us all about it in the comments section!

 

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Cate Morgan-Harlow

Cate Morgan-Harlow is an all arounder, writing about how-to, DIY, and design with gusto. She is a shadowy figure with a mysterious past.