With school out for the summer, there is so much excitement, anticipation and PLAY! But as the memes that are popping up all over my Facebook feed would suggest, summer starts off with the best-laid plans and slowly wanes into complaints of, “Mom, I’m bored!” and parents left without many tactics in their arsenal.
I genuinely believe the magic of childhood happens when children have nothing to do. I remember summers spent on my bike racing down trails and catching frogs. So often, just our backyard was the canvas for my brothers’ and my imagination. And while I think there is incredible value in just letting your kids figure out what to do on their own, I also love setting up invitations to play. And so, I have taken to our backyard and set up some fun stuff. What I love about all of these easy backyard kid activities is that they are simple to execute, cost very little, promote play-based learning, and are entertaining!
Here are 10 fun and easy backyard kid activities that they just can’t get enough of:
1. Race Cars Using Pool Noodles
All you need is:
- one or more pool noodles
- zap straps (or something else to secure the noodles)
- a serrated knife
- and a couple of patio chairs or a patio railing.
To prepare, cut noodle cut lengthwise, use zap straps to secure each half of the pool noodle to the top of a chair, patio railing or similar. Take out toy cars and let them have fun racing them!
2. Explore a Toy Excavation
Set up a toy excavation site or farm using soil, a plastic wading pool/large plastic bin and some toys.
- To prepare, grab a bag of soil (30 lbs), dump into your pool or containers.
- Collect toys on your theme such as tractors, trucks, farm animals, toy shovels and pails.
- Set up a farm scene or excavation site. Watch as your kids have seemingly endless fun!
- Once you’ve decided it’s time to empty the pool, the soil can be spread out on your lawn or used to top up flower beds.
3. Spray Paint With Chalk
Make spray-paint chalk with three ingredients and some spray bottles.
- To prepare, purchase a few spray bottles at your local dollar store.
- Using a hand or stand mixer, combine one part water, one part cornstarch, and mix well (we tend to find about a 1/2 cup per spray bottle works really well).
- Divide mixture equally between spray bottles using a funnel.
- Add natural food colouring to each mixture. Secure lid and shake well!
- Take the kids outside and encourage them to “spray paint” any area of your choosing.
*This mixture is very easily removed with water!
4. Make a Waterworks Interactive Display
Make a display using pool noodles, a cheap set of funnels and zap straps.
- To prepare, secure pool noodles to a fence or patio railings using zap straps.
- Make formations in creative ways (we’ve done an S and even a U shape where one side of the U is slightly higher than the other). If your fence posts are particularly thick, attach several zap straps to one another to extend their length.
- Put a funnel into the hollow opening of each pool noodle.
- Have a bucket of water or kiddie pool underneath with water and cups for pouring.
- Encourage your children to pour water into funnels and watch which ways it spills out!
5. Create a Cementsterpiece
Draw on cement without using chalk!
- To prepare, take old, dried washable markers without lids and a cup of water outside.
- Have your child lightly dip the markers into the water as they would a paint brush and colour on the patio.
*This washes away with a little water or a bit of rain!
6. Conduct a Science Experiment
Teach your kids a little bit of science by taking old, broken crayons and some aluminum foil outside.
- To prepare, place foil on a baking sheet or plate.
- Strip the crayons of their wrappers and then set the crayons down on the foil.
- Step back and wait as the sun slowly melts the crayons.
- Once melted, bring inside and let solidify to the point you can fold the wax without it dripping. If it’s no longer malleable, bring outside for a couple of minutes and try again.
- Once the wax can bend without breaking or dropping, roll your melted wax to make a straw-like crayon. Let sit until fully hardened and draw!
7. Blow Bu-Bu-Bubbles
Blow overflowing bubbles!
- To prepare, take a little bit of liquid dish soap, a plastic pitcher, or plastic drinking glass, fill about 3/4 full of water.
- Adding food colouring is optional, but can create a nice effect.
- Put a straw into the container and have your child blow bubbles*.
*This activity should be reserved for children over the age of three who understand only to blow into the straw.
8. Blow No-Spill Bubbles
Create a no-spill bubble station with some painters tape, refill bubble solution, and bubble containers with wands.
- To prepare, secure your child’s bubbles to a fence or patio post using painter’s tape.
- Be prepared to tilt the container and re-secure as the container empties. Having refill bubbles on hand makes things a whole lot easier too!
9. Make Wet Chalk Art
Bring a new dimension to chalk drawings by wetting your patio and THEN drawing in chalk. The chalk will write more easily and the colour will be much more vibrant!
10. Create Chalk Shadows
Combine #9 with this idea or just try it on its own! Encourage your child to position themselves in funny shapes, trace their shadow with chalk and colour in the outline!
What fun ideas do you have for this summer?