Remember when you were a kid and a moving box could be made into a castle, a hedge could become a forest and a closet could become a hidden fortress to be explored for hours? To a child, a small backyard has the potential to become an entire world full of endless fun. Below are a few simple ideas that will ensure that windows don’t get broken by stray balls and hours of endless enjoyment are being had outdoors.
Ring toss is an age-old game that is fun for all, builds skills and is easy to set up.
- Find a few dowels or sticks about 12” in height. You may also want to create a scoring system by sawing them to different heights or painting them in different colors. They can be drilled into a board, stuck into a garden bed, or into plant pots full of dirt or sand. You can also find an old wooden stool and saw the legs to the desired heights.
- Make rings out of some nylon rope covered in duct tape. Make each piece of rope about 12” long. Choose different colors of duct tape so that each player can have a different color. Form the rope into a ring then wrap it in duct tape until firm.
- Make your own system of points for scoring or just play for practice and fun!
If your backyard has a cement sidewalk or pad you can get a lot of mileage out of chalk. Kids can work on their artistry, without any clean-up necessary, as well as create any number of new games. Hopscotch is a classic chalk game that every little kid should learn. Here is the simplest way to play it:
- Draw out Three squares about a foot in length and height; each stacked on top of each other. Two more squares are stacked horizontally on these and one vertical square goes on top of the horizontal ones. This gives you a T shape.
- You simply hop on one foot until you get to the horizontals which you do with two feet and then back to one foot. It sounds simple but little kids love it and you can find endless ways to spice it up.
Cardboard Fort Building
Never underestimate the amount of fun kids can have building forts. Their imaginations are practically inexhaustible and a few simple tools will go a long way. Cardboard boxes can do miraculous things.
- Find some good quality cardboard boxes with little to no markings. Moving companies are the best source.
- Start with one large box, cut open a door and add on rooms, bridges, a mote, or whatever you fancy. You can also build up many smaller boxes like bricks, or an adult can use a knife or scissors to cut the boxes open and tape several together using duct tape.
- Finally, get out the felt pens and draw doors, windows, and other features on the boxes.
This is perhaps one of the simplest games you can play outside, without much danger of damaging plants or someone getting hurt. Simply blow up a balloon. Pretend that it is hot and if it touches the ground it will start a fire. Hit the balloon in the air towards other people and work together to try to keep it off the ground. It is surprising how long this game will keep people running around in a small area, having a good time.
Build a Bug Terrarium
For adventurous types, looking for bugs is so much fun, and studying them once you have them makes this game educational too.
- Find a mason jar, or other glass container with a disposable lid.
- Poke some holes in the lid (an adult can do this with a nail and hammer).
- Place small rocks, sand, dirt and even a few plants into the bottom of the jar.
- Find some creepy crawlies, like pill bugs, non-poisonous caterpillars and ladybugs. Use garden gloves or a scoop to put them safely into the jar.
- If you have a magnifying glass you can place this over the top in place of a lid and watch what the little critters are up to.
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