Our yard isn’t big enough for a swing set, but my daughters’ friends always have a blast in our backyard. It doesn’t take much to make a kid happy as long as they are outside. Give them a tree and it’s a forest, a sandbox is a bakery and a hose means your grass gets watered while they stay cool. Here are 7 ways to keep your kids happy, no swing set required.
What’s on the menu? Mud pies, of course! And sand pies, weed salads, flower soup and sand ice cream sundaes! You can move a play kitchen outside or just improvise with a bucket and pots, pans and spoons. If you have a sandbox, all the better. Confession: I was a little unsure if I wanted the hassle of a sandbox, but we got one last summer and now I’m a believer. (Just hose off the sandy feet before going inside and the sand stays outside!) (Photo via Garden Mama.)
Set up a temporary obstacle course or build one that will last through the seasons. Some ideas are: stepping stones or tree stumps (rainbow!), tires, a tunnel, ladder (lying horizontal on the ground), cones, hula hoops, balance beam, table (to crawl under) and more. Feeling adventurous? Add a slip ‘n slide! (Photo via Rusta Upp.)
Create a Fairy World or Dino Land
My girls are obsessed with fairies. They take a few small fairy dolls outside and build a tiny world from flowers, plants, and a few items we picked up at a craft store like colored stones and a miniature fence. We use a corner of our yard that has flowers and stones, but you could also use a flower pot or a spot next to some flowers. Boys can create terrain for their dinosaurs or cars and trucks.
Build a Fort
Kids love kid-sized spaces and they’ll make one out of just about anything. Let them bring some old sheets outside and help them hang them up over chairs or bushes. Bring a box or a few boxes outside. You could also buy an outdoor play house or a play tent. (Photo via House and Universe.)
Fill up a baby pool with water and let the games begin! Add water toys, water balloons, big kids, even a kid-sized chair! Turn on the sprinkler and join in the fun. (I run through the sprinklers with the kids every summer and it feels amazing.)
Sidewalks are the best canvases. Use spray bottles to blend chalk colors and the chalk becomes finger paint. When you’re all done, get out the hose and clean up!
Hunt for Bugs and Worms
Go on a bug or worm hunt. Let the kids explore under rocks, around flowers and plants and dig in the dirt. Then, build a bug farm and study them. Use a plastic container like the kind you buy strawberries in as the farm. Add dirt, plants, pebbles and bugs. After the fun is over, let the bugs go.