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In our family, we are great create experiences instead of having things, and we spend a lot of time outdoors. I’ve always said I hoped to be the neighborhood house where my kids and their friends would want to hang out. Now that my kids are getting older, this is happening and sometimes it means more than 20 kids are playing in our house.
I absolutely love it and realized that as summer approaches, I need to make sure there are plenty of things that make the game and outdoor activity easier. Our backyard is a work in progress, but it has become one of the main places to hang out in our neighborhood and keep the kids really active.
My four-year-old son describes our garden as “epic,” so I guess we’re on the right track.
Outdoor play ideas for summer
We brainstormed about garden ideas and had a few criteria:
- Activities and equipment should lead to active outdoor play and creativity
- Ideally, any activity would also be good for developing skills such as balance or strength
- The games could be played as a family or with a group of friends
- Any purchase would provide hours of fun for a dollar of what it cost
We found more than a dozen ideas that met these criteria and our “epic” playground was born. Includes:
Backyard Ideas: Equipment
Some of the funniest things in life are free, but some well-chosen equipment can make a back garden even more fun. These are the garden teams that have created the most enduring fun in our home.
Last year we gave our kids a trampoline for Christmas and it has become a focal point of the back garden. I know trampolines can be controversial for safety reasons, but I’m a big fan because the bounce increases lymph flow and the bounce strengthens the bones. (That’s why we also use trampolines or bounces at home.)
The other day I spent half an hour jumping and realized they are a good exercise too!
We have this trampoline and to keep things as safe as possible, we have the net at the top and we also have a net at the bottom so the kids can’t walk underneath. We also limit the number of children who can jump at a time and watch over children as they jump.
The Slack line is another favorite in the back garden. I love trying to master this mix of loose rope and fun with trampolines. It bounces slightly and swings, so it helps to train balance … and patience! Start with a line of training to grab yourself, and then walk without holding on for stability.
A step beyond Slackline and the current favorite with older kids. Inspired by the show American Ninja Warrior, the Ninjaline it’s like a slackline mixed with monkey bars. It is a hanging rope line with various hanging challenges like rings, bars and even rope balls to grab them.
Full disclosure … I can’t complete it yet, but my kids do.
We used to share our tree house plans, but it has been the main focus of our garden for years. Kids love it and I love that they spend time climbing, camping and creating games up there. Here’s how we built it and what we included.
The tree house also includes an easy-to-build and inexpensive climbing wall. We set up these rock climbing wineries on boards on one side of the tree house.
Our hanging tent it was a hand for our children. When our family passed the tent for camping, it became the portable hut that hung in the garden. They are easier and faster than building a tree house and are also less expensive. They are also great in patios where none of the trees are big enough to handle a tree house and can be moved to different areas.
Our kids love this swing and spend hours playing in it. It will hold up to £ 600, so not only will all of our children (and their friends) be able to do it once at a time, but they will also be admitting adults who want to have fun.
While this might be a controversial topic for some, it has been our children’s favorite and most used article in the garden over the years. Every time we entertain it’s always the focus of attention (and lots of fun!) Our zip line joins from the children’s tree house to a tree, but all you need to set it up is a light hill, a pair of strong trees and this kit is easy to install.
A garden may not be the first thing you would think of as a garden activity for children, but it provides hours of entertainment and learning. Over the years we have had several types of gardens and I have loved them all. We can all garden in some way, even in small backyards, and this is a great way to spend time as a family and teach kids where their food comes from.
For shadow and creative play, these burlap tents cannot be surpassed. A few years ago we did our family project. They are portable so kids can move them and they can really do a lot of abuse. Even let the kids paint the burlap if you want.
Like an outdoor dollhouse (which you won’t fathom!) That kids can create from a few simple, reusable materials. Let your imagination fly! This is what you need.
Ideas for the garden: games and sports
Beyond the basic equipment, there are some garden games that have been worth buying over the years.
Volleyball and badminton
Fantastic summer activities for children (and adults). A network works for two activities which both lead to better coordination and exercise.
This game it is very popular among my older children. It’s great for training eye-hand coordination, agility and lateral movement … and it’s a lot of fun because it’s unpredictable. Also, there are no large nets to lay or stakes to put on the ground. It is also portable to take to the park or the beach.
Cycling through our neighborhood was one of my favorite childhood memories and I love that my kids now enjoy it just as much. Our little ones Cruzee balance bikes and our then four-year-old girl learned to ride two wheels in ten minutes because she already mastered the balance part.
Tether Ball or Swingball
Another flashback to my own childhood! Tetherball and swingball are great for eye-hand coordination and fun for hours with kids. We have this portable set it’s great because we can move it and leave it in the winter. The height is adjustable to work for the variety of home ages.
Cornhole is one of those games that became popular at the football hatch parties and are enjoyed by both adults and children. It’s safer than horseshoe and it’s so much fun. These corn hole boards can be painted with the colors of the outfit you choose for hours of fun.
Capture the flag
Another favorite game in our neighborhood. Go to the old school and play with some bandanas as flags and a rope to split a space in half for the “sides”. Here are the official rules and some fun variations.
Our older children love it this version shining in the dark which works out at night.
Another fun game after dark for kids or adults. We have these laser label guns and the kids (not to mention my husband) like to run after the night with this game. I have to admit, it sounds like a lot of fun and I’m tempted to get into the action.
You don’t need a lot of fancy equipment to have a great time outside. Some simple ones sidewalk plaster drawing the corset provides hours of fun! In case a few years have passed since you tried it, Here are the basic rules of the market (with some fun variations).
Don’t look down at the humble skipping rope. It’s a classic! A simple skipping rope challenges coordination, activates lymph flow and strengthens muscles in one. Bring some memories of your childhood and teach some of them classic jump rope rhymes.
One of the oldest children’s games that has survived the test of time, with good reason. It turns out that building strengths is also an important part of childhood for brain development. The researchers found that these “special places” built children they can be indoors, outdoors or even in their own rooms. By building strengths, children learn creativity, problem-solving skills, and more.
As parents, we don’t usually do much to encourage the construction of fortresses, other than providing time and some basic materials, such as old sheets, blankets, and some wood waste. It’s amazing what kids can get!
Another favorite children’s game in our neighborhood. For my understanding, it’s almost like a reverse label. A person starts out as “that” and chases the other kids. Once another child is labeled, so is the first child. This continues until all children have been tagged. The last child to be tagged can choose who is tagged in the next round.
What kids really need: just to play outside.
A creative playground is a lot of fun and kids are sure to benefit from it, but there’s no need to feel like you need to recreate Disney World. The important thing is to give children the opportunity to spend unstructured time to play outdoors independently.
Also: when kids inevitably say “I’m bored,” it doesn’t mean you’re doing anything wrong as a parent. In fact, they are doing well. Research shows that boredom is just one part of the natural process of finding something new to do and in fact it pushes us towards the next big idea. Remind them and encourage them to find something new to do … outside! This is an area where we, as parents, can also set an example by giving ourselves time to walk, hike, ride a bike, or get into the laser.
The important thing is that children have active time in the sun (and dirt). Whatever your garden, children will benefit and feel happier, relaxed and sleep better.
Here is the summer!
What backyard ideas do you have for your kids to be creative and fun this summer?